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Court sentences man to death after stabbing colleague

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Muritala Dare was sentenced to death by hanging by the Kogi State High Court of Justice in Lokoja on Thursday for stabbing a coworker with a broken bottle.

After analyzing the defendant’s role in an incident that occurred on August 16, 2021, around the NUJ region of the Lokoja metropolis, Justice Josiah Majebi, who presides over High Court 2, Lokoja, found him guilty.

The defendant was charged with Culpable Homicide, which carries a death penalty under Sections 221 (a) and (b) of the Kogi State Penal Code, and the charge stated that he “caused the death of one Lukman Karim by doing an act to wit, stabbing him on the neck and hand with a broken bottle with the intention of causing his death and thereby committed an offence.”

To prove that the defendant committed the offence, the prosecutor called three witnesses and tendered seven exhibits which included the defendant’s confessional statement, a Coroners Ordinance (Chapter) Report of Medical Practitioners, and a Nigeria Police Post Mortem Examination report dated 19th August 2020.

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While giving evidence, the principal witness, who is attached to the Quick Response Unit of the Kogi State Police Command, said the condemned defendant was apprehended from his hideout after committing the crime while the deceased, who died at the scene of the incident, was confirmed dead at the Specialist Hospital, Lokoja where the corpse was later deposited.

Upon examination of the evidence presented before the court and particularly relying on the confessional statement made by the defendant, Justice Majebi averred that “a confession is an admission at any time by a person charged with a crime stating or suggesting that he committed the crime”

He noted that “it is well settled that in a criminal trial (that) an issue may be proved by direct evidence (evidence of an eye witness) confession or admission voluntarily made by the Defendant and circumstantial evidence”.

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Thus while concluding that the entire case of the prosecution was built on the confessional statement of the defendant, which though he tried effortlessly to deny during the trial, the statements he made during the course of investigating the matter were adequate to rely upon in passing the judgment according to the Judge.

According to the trial judge, “it is trite law that a valid voluntary statement entered without objection and admitted in evidence is good evidence and no amount of subsequent argument against it or retraction will vitiate its admissibility and potency as a voluntary statement and the mere denial by the defendant will not be a good reason for rejecting it.

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“It is only desirable to have some evidence of circumstances which make it probable that the confession was truly confessional, as in Exhibit P1 in the instant case.”

“I have carefully perused and considered Exhibit P1. It is confessional in nature. I am compelled to consider the legal propriety/status of the said Exhibits P1 & P P6 in view of the fact that their admissibility is being challenged by the learned counsel for the defendant under issue two of his issues for determination and more importantly, that as earlier stated, the entire case by the prosecution herein is built on them particularly Exhibit P1,” he added.

Elaborating further, he said there were sufficient reasons to arrive at the conclusion that the evidence contained in the statements made by the defendant were convincing enough even outside his confessional statement.

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“I am of the view that there is sufficient evidence outside the confessional statement of the defendant to make it probable that the statement is true. Aside from the admission of the defendant that he stabbed the deceased to death with a broken bottle, his averments in Exhibits P6 are materially the same as his averments in Exhibit P1,” he said.

“Hence, his averments in Exhibits P6 corroborate his averments in Exhibit P1.”

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In the two exhibits, the defendant averred that he knew the deceased.

In Exhibits P6, the defendant stated that he worked with the deceased at the same place under high tension, and in Exhibit P1, he stated that he had issues with the deceased after they were sacked from their former shop. According to him, on the 16th day of August 2020, he had a fight with some persons including the deceased.

While in Exhibit P6, he stated that he removed the broken bottle he had earlier kept in his pocket and stabbed the deceased with it on his neck and left hand leading to his death”.

The court, therefore, held that the stated evidence of circumstances made it possible that the statement made by the defendant and contained in Exhibit P1 was “truly confessional” while noting that for the prosecution to succeed in a charge of Culpable Homicide, under Section 221 (a) of the said Penal Code, it must have the ingredients of the death of a deceased resulting from the act of a defendant whose act would have been done with the intention to cause death or that the defendant knew or had a reason or know that death would be the probable and not only likely consequence of his act.

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He therefore concluded that all these essential ingredients were already manifest in the matter and supported by other evidences.

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“I have carefully looked and considered Exhibit P1 and I am satisfied that it is direct, positive and admits the essential elements of the offence of Culpable Homicide as stated against the Defendant….There is a nexus between the act of the Defendant and the death of the deceased. The fact that the deceased died on the 16th day of August, 2020 is not in dispute between the prosecution and the Defence. The substance of the case, established by the evidence adduced is that the deceased was killed by the Defendant.” And there was “no Scintilla of evidence from the Defendant both in Exhibit P1 and his oral evidence to show that the killing of the deceased was in Self-Defence or Provocation” as was canvassed by his counsel.

In conclusion, his lordship found the Defendant guilty of the charge of Culpable Homicide against him and convicted him accordingly.

“Premised on the above findings, I hold that the prosecution has proved all the ingredients of the charge against the Defendant and thereby raising the presumption of guilt against him in respect of the charge.

“That, you, Dare Murtala, is hereby sentenced to death for the offence of Culpable Homicide for which you are convicted. The sentence of this Court upon you is that you will be hanged by neck until you be dead and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul,” he pronounced.

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Crime

ICYMI: Oba of Benin accuses EFCC of corruption

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Oba of Benin, Ewuare II has alleged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is aiding crimes in the country.

The monarch made the allegations when he received the new Benin Zonal Director of EFCC, Effa Okim in his Palace in Benin on Monday.

He cited a case involving unnamed former palace officials who were left off the hook after they were arrested for fraud and handed over to EFCC in Benin for investigation and prosecution.

The Oba alleged that some EFCC operatives allegedly handled the case with kid gloves, which led to the release of the culprits a few years ago.

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The monarch, who did not name the palace officials, expressed shock that the EFCC investigators allegedly swept glaring evidence of fraud against them (the palace officials) under the carpet.

While tasking the commission to fight crime without fear or favour, the Oba added,” We want to draw your attention to one or two grey areas in your operations”.

“No matter how much you try to support the EFFC from the palace, It is very difficult because they seem to listen to other parties. What I have been told is that they take instructions from the highest bidder.

“You know that I have been known for speaking the truth. I was not happy about certain things that happened with your predecessor.

“We get news from everywhere. We try to assist the EFCC. I even wrote a letter to the then-chairman who was removed from office.

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“I even sent an emissary to talk to him regarding certain elements in Edo State, particularly the palace.

“How can EFCC operatives, especially, the lady who handled the case I cited earlier behave like that? If I was asked to comment on her performance, I would score her zero. I do not know if she was doing an EFCC job or just dancing to the tunes of people who were giving her money.

“At the time we were trying to assist EFCC, the report we kept getting was negative and I was not happy about it,” Oba Ewuare II added.

The monarch, however, said the newly appointed Chairman of EFCC, Olanipekun Olukayode is on the path to greatness if he continues to demonstrate fidelity in his duties.

He also pledged the palace’s support to the state government in addressing social inequality and reducing social vices.

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Earlier in his address, Okim appealed to the Oba to support advocacy against financial crimes with Edo State ranking second behind Lagos State in the financial crime index in the country.

Recalling the historical ties between his state of origin, Cross River and Edo State, he solicited prayers and royal blessings to enable him to discharge his duties diligently.

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NDLEA declares India-based Nigerian couple wanted, arrests four cartel members

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has declared a couple, Kazeem Omogoriola Owoalade and Rashidat Ayinke Owoalade, wanted for running a cocaine cartel from India.

This follows the arrest of four members of the syndicate in Lagos, where a Sports Utility Vehicle was recovered and two houses traced to them were sealed for forfeiture to the Federal Government.

This was made known in a statement signed by the agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, and shared on its website on Sunday.

The statement read, “A couple, Kazeem Omogoriola Owoalade (alias Abdul Qassim Adisa Balogun) and Rashidat Ayinke Owoalade (alias Bolarinwa Rashidat Ayinke), who runs a cocaine cartel from India has been declared wanted by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency following the arrest of four members of the syndicate in Lagos where a Sports Utility Vehicle was recovered and two houses already traced to them sealed for forfeiture to the Federal Government.

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“Two members of the syndicate: Imran Taofeek Olalekan and Ishola Isiaka Olalekan were arrested on April 3, 2024 following their bid to export 3.40kg cocaine on a Qatar Airlines flight going to Oman through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA Ikeja Lagos.

“While Imran was the courier conveying the drug consignment to Oman, Ishola recruited him for the head of the cartel, which investigation has now revealed to be Alhaji Kazeem Omogoriola Owoalade whose Indian residence permit bears Abdul Qassim Adisa Balogun based in India.

“Efforts to dismantle his network in Nigeria paid off after five weeks of surveillance and follow up operations when another member of the syndicate, Hamed Abimbola Saheed, who works directly with the baron was arrested on Tuesday 14th May at Abule Egba area of Lagos. It was indeed Saheed who lodged Imran in a hotel a day before his aborted trip to Oman and equally dropped him and Ishola at the Lagos airport the day they were arrested.”

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During a search of Hamed’s house, NDLEA operatives were said to have recovered some phenacetine, a cutting agent for Cocaine, weighing 900 grams.

He was said to have confessed that the recovered substance was what was left of the consignment Imran was taking to Oman the day he was arrested.

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His arrest led to a follow up operation at the home of the Owoalade couple at 20, Eyiaro Street, Ogudu Orioke, Lagos where another suspect was arrested and a new model Toyota RAV4 SUV marked FKJ-773 JJ belonging to Rashidat and additional 400 grams of Cocaine recovered in addition to already prepared suitcases to be used for illicit drug concealment, digital weighing scales and other paraphernalia.

NDLEA officers also intercepted two parcels at a courier firm in Lagos on May 15.

The parcels contained cocaine (587g) hidden in steel bolts bound for China and amphetamine concealed in vape pens and shea butter heading to the UK.

The statement added that an attempt to export 3.6kg of cannabis (loud strain) hidden in 36 water flasks to Dubai was foiled at a logistics company in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on May 16.

The owner of the consignment, Emeka Nwadiaro (aka Mega), was arrested in Onitsha, Anambra State, on the same day following a swift follow-up operation.

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The statement added, “While NDLEA operatives in Lagos intercepted a Mercedes Benz bus loaded with 840kg cannabis and arrested the driver, Samuel Henry, at Olojo in Ojo LGA, Lagos, another suspect, Lawal Adam was nabbed along Otukpo road, Aliade, Benue state on Friday 17th May with 75,000 pills of opioids including tramadol and exol-5. Two suspects: Olisa Etisi, 32, and Jonathan Umeh, 25, were arrested along Owerri – Onitsha road, Imo state following the discovery by NDLEA operatives of a big gas cyclinder used to conceal six blocks of Loud, a strain of cannabis weighing 3.85kg.

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“In Borno State, 70-year-old Adamu Mohammed was arrested at Mbulamel, Biu LGA on Thursday, 16th May with 2kg cannabis and 33.55grams of diazepam, while Gaddafi Sani, 27, was arrested with 30 kilograms of cannabis along Abuja-Kaduna road, Kaduna.”

NDLEA officers in Yobe State seized a large consignment of drugs from a petrol tanker on the Potiskum-Damaturu Road.

The drugs, which included 91.1kg of opioids and 13kg of cannabis, were hidden in secret compartments and were heading for Maiduguri, Borno State.

The driver, Ismaila Ali, was arrested in connection with the discovery.

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NDLEA officers also arrested four suspects in connection with the seizure of 2,025 pieces of improvised explosive devices (IED) materials in Niger State.

Two suspects, Abdulrauf Shitu Adeyemi and Asmiyu Rahim, were arrested on the spot, while Husaini Abdullahi and Nazifi Abdullahi were arrested in Sokoto and Kano respectively, following a follow-up operation.

The suspects and the explosive materials have been transferred to the appropriate security agency for further investigation. In a separate operation, Muhammad Lawal was arrested in Katsina state with 1,000 ampoules of Pentazocine injection.

A total of 105kg cannabis was on Friday, May 17, recovered from a house at Obola community, Owan West LG, Edo State, and a suspect, Gloria Oris, arrested when NDLEA officers raided the area.

In Kwara State, two suspects: Abdulganiyu Karaman, 55, and Sunday Abel, 37, were on Saturday 18th May arrested with 83kg cannabis and tramadol at Boriya, Baruten LGA, and Offa respectively.

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NDLEA officers also recovered 105kg of cannabis from a house in the Obola community, Edo state, and arrested a suspect, Gloria Oris, on May 17th. Additionally, two suspects, Abdulganiyu Karaman and Sunday Abel, were arrested in Kwara State on May 18, with 83kg of cannabis and tramadol.

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Crime

NURTW member, two others jailed for drug trafficking

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A 45-year-old driver and member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Tapha Mustapha, and two others, were on Thursday convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for trafficking hard drugs.

Other convicts sentenced alongside the NURTW member are Andrew Ukelere and Anthony Chiemerem.

The three convicts were earlier arraigned before the court by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, on April 27, 2024, on charges bordering on conspiracy, trafficking in 13.9 kilograms of tramadol and 590 litres of Pentazocine, a psychotropic drug similar to cocaine.

During their arraignment, the prosecutor, Mariam I. Erondu, who was represented by Julian Negedu, told the court that the convicts were arrested with the drugs on March 19, 2024, on the Long Bridge area of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos State.

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According to the prosecutor, the offences committed contravened Sections 11(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N 30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and are punishable under the same Act.

The trio, however, pleaded guilty to the charges.

Following their guilty plea, Justice Kehinde Ogundare, adjourned the matter to Thursday for a review of facts and sentence, and then ordered that they be remanded at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre.

At the resumed hearing of the matter for review of facts, the prosecutor called Mr Benjamin Naetah, a Senior Exhibits Keeper with the agency, who tendered the drugs and other exhibits, which were admitted by the court.

Upon the conclusion of the review of facts, the prosecutor urged the court to convict and sentence the trio in accordance with the sections of the NDLEA Act that they were charged with.

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But the convicts’ lawyers, Lilian Omotunde and Ore-Ofe Ogunleye, in their plea for mercy, urged the court to award a non-custodian sentence on their clients, being first-time convicts and for not wasting the time of the court.

Omotunde, who is the counsel for the first and second convicts, said: “The first convict is a first-time offender; he is a member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers. He was contracted by the roadside to deliver a good after Lagos State, but he was caught up by the law.

“The second convict is a 35-year-old medicine store attendant, who was sent on an errand by his master.

“I urge the court to award a non-custodian sentence,” she said.

Also, counsel for the third convict, Ogunleye, urged the court to award a non-custodian sentence to her client.

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She particularly cited Section 426(2) paragraphs a, b, d and e of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

Responding to the counsel’s submissions, the prosecutor, Erondu, who also cited Section 311 of ACJA, urged the court to consider the commercial quantity of the prohibited drug seized from the convicts and the damage it would have done to the country.

In his judgment, Justice Ogundare sentenced the first and second convicts to two years imprisonment, while the third convict was sentenced to a year imprisonment.

The judge however ordered both the first and second convicts to pay the sum of N500,000 each, and the third convict to pay the sum of N100,000, in lieu of the jail term.

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