An Ikeja High Court on Friday sentenced to death by hanging a 27-year-old man, Oluwaseun Oladapo, charged with the murder of Mr Kunle Fadipe, a Lagos based human rights lawyer.
Late Fadipe was a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and a member of the board of trustees of an advocacy group, Access to Justice.
Nigerian pilot reports that Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, in her judgment found Oladapo guilty of a five-count charge of murder, armed robbery and assault occasioning harm.
The judge, while sentencing the convict, said, “The `allocutus’ of the defendant shall be passed unto the appropriate committee which is the Committee for the Prerogative of Mercy.
“Sections 221 and 229(2)(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011 provides mandatory death sentences for the offences of murder and armed robbery respectively.
“Oladapo, who was on crutches as a result of a gunshot injury on his left leg, wore a remorseless expression on his face after the sentences were pronounced.
He was immediately led out of the courtroom by prison officials to serve his sentence at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons
Earlier, before the sentences were passed, Mr Worer Obuagbaka, counsel to the convict, pleaded for mercy on behalf of his client.
He is a young man who is still useful to the society. I urged this honourable court to please temper justice with mercy,” Obuagbaka said.
The prosecuting counsel, Mrs O.A Olugasa in her response said, “We, respectfully, submit that the offences for which the convict is charged carry mandatory sentences.
“The deceased was not given a second chance. His children were not given a second chance to have their father with them.
“I urge the court to give the harshest punishment to the convict so that justice can be seen to be done.”
Nigerian pilot reports that Oladapo, allegedly murdered the lawyer at 3.00a.m., on July 4, 2014 at his No. 1, Harmony Estate, Ifako-Ijaiye, Iju, Lagos residence.
Oladapo was arraigned on July 5, 2015 and the prosecution closed its case against him on Feb. 9, 2016 while the defence closed its case on May 31, 2016.
The prosecution was led by Mr Adeniji Kazeem, the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and Mrs Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPPs).
Blood stained torch, dagger, and tee – shirt as well as a pair of slippers, and a window blind used to subdue Oladapo during the attack were presented as evidence by the prosecution.
Six witnesses testified for the prosecution–Fadipe’s wife, Mrs Kemi Fadipe (PW1); Fadipe’s sister-in-law, Miss Biola Owolabi (PW2); a female police officer, Insp. Temidayo Salad (PW3).
A pathologist, Dr. Sunday Soyemi (PW4); a security guard, Mr Bamidele Sanni (PW5) and a policeman, Insp. Adeloye James also testified.
Oladapo was also charged with the murder of Mrs Cecilia Owolabi, the mother-in-law of the late Fadipe, but the charge of murder was commuted to assault occasioning harm by the court.
Justice Ipaye explaining the reason why the murder charge of Owolabi was rejected said , “The prosecution did not prove a direct link between the actions of the defendant and the death of Madam Cecilia Owolabi.
“He is, however, found guilty of the assault occasioning harm of Madam Cecilia Owolabi.”
A pathologist, Dr Sunday Soyemi in his testimony, revealed the cause of Fadipe’s death.
“There were bruises on his neck, head, lower back, a stab wound to the left ear, a penetrative stab wound to the neck, a penetrative-stab wound to his left back.
“He had some defensive wounds on his body, there was a laceration on the jugular vein and a stab wound to the heart.
“The cause of death was rapid and severe blood loss caused by the severe nice of the left jugular vein,” Soyemi said..
However, Oladapo, while testifying in Yoruba language in his defence, denied committing the offence.
According to him, on the night of the murder, he left a viewing centre to go to his home and he had to take a shortcut via Harmony Estate.
“When I got to the Harmony Estate, an altercation occurred between me, the security guard and four men, they beat me up, subdued me and shot at my leg.
“I fainted and woke up in the hospital, I fainted again only to wake up four days later at the police station.”
However, when the state prosecutor showed him a picture where he was being subdued at the Fadipe’s residence, he strenuously denied being at the house.
“That picture was taken at the police station and not at the Fadipe’s house.
“ I don’t know Mr Kunle Fadipe, I never hid in his generator house, I never went to the Fadipe’s home,” he said.
Justice Ipaye, however, in her judgment on Friday, dismissed Oladapo’s denials.
“There was no evidence that a fight took place on the road between the defendant, the security guard and four persons.
“The testimonies of PW1 to PW5 placed the defendant in the house.
“The court does not believe the account of the defendant; this was afterthought and a calculated attempt at deflecting the truth.
“The evidence of the witnesses are credible and without a shadow of doubt, the consequences of stabbing a grown-up man with a 10-inch-double-edged carved knife should be fatal.
“The evidence before this court is direct, convincing and overwhelming.
“It is impossible to claim self-defence when you are the perpetrator and forced yourself into the victims’ home,” the judge said.