As part of it pro bono service to the members of the public and fight against human rights abuse, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Benin Branch, Tuesday, April 28 made sudden appearance at Uroukpota mobile court, Benin, to defend five persons who were accused of violating the curfew imposed by Edo State government.
The state government had on Sunday imposed a statewide dusk-to-dawn curfew, which commenced on Monday from 7p.m. to 6a.m. daily.
The defendants, Success Peter, 32,
Peace Doonior, 25, Tunde Mustapha, 35, Monday Ukpowa, 38 and one were accused of violating the curfew imposed by the state government.
Police prosecutor, Linda said three of the defendants were arrested while driving on the highway around 7:55p.m.
She further said the other two of the defendants were arrested inside a brothel located at Erediawa street, Benin City, at around 8:00pm in the night.
She told the court that the offence contravened the movement restriction order put in place by the state government.
The accused, however, all pleaded not guilty to the charge level against them.
Doonior and Success told the court that they were in their Hotel room at Erediawa street when some police men bursted into their room and arrested them.
The duo told the court that the police prosecutor who claimed to be among the squad that made the arrest was not actually there, adding that they were sighting her for the first time.
Barrister Douglas Ogbankwa, lead counsel to the defendants, and also Public Relations Officer of NBA Task Force on CIVID-19 prayed the court to strike out the charge on no case basis.
He argued that there was no any report or investigation from the prosecutor as of why his clients were arrested, and that there is no where in the Edo State ‘Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020’, where it’s forbidden that two persons cannot stay in a Hotel, hence the case should be struck out.
On the other hand, defending other three persons who were accused of driving on the high during the curfew hours, Barrister Dennis Osaritin, argued that there was contradiction between the charge file and the evidence as presented by the prosecutor.
He told the court that his clients were arrested 6:15pm as against the claim by the prosecutor, adding that the three defendants were arrested separately as against claim that they were arrest together on the highway inside a vehicle.
He further argued that going by the contradictions and lies in the charge and the evidence, it will be difficult to rely on such and do justice to the charge hence the charge should be struck out.
Barr. Orobosa Okunbo, State Counsel, however, argued that the case should not be base on charge and evidence, stressing that it’s just an emergency court and not the rugular court where such is taken into cogniaance.
Magistrate Friday Okunbo, find the three suspects guilty of the offence and thereafter convicted them of same offence.
He sentenced the three offenders who violated the state curfew to two days non-custodial community service with the option of payment of N5,000 fine each.
Barrister Matthew Edaghese, chairman of the NBA Task Force however pleaded to the Magistrate to temper justice with mercy by allowing them to go free, stressing that they must have learnt there lessons with their stay in police custody since the previous day.
Magistrate Okunbo therefore reduced the community service to one day or an option of N3,000 fan payment each, he added that this was to serve as a deterrent to others.
Magistrate Okunbo, however, struck out the charge leveled against Success and Doonior (1st and 2nd defendants respectively) on ‘no case ground’.
Mobile Court set up by Edo State government to hear cases of violation of the Edo State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020’, has sentencing violators virtually on daily basis until the NBA came to the rescue of these ones.
The NBA Task Force that made the appearance was led by Barr. Matthew Edaghese, chairman of the Task Force; Barr. Douglas Ogbankwa, PRO; Barr. Dennis Osaritin; Barr. Victoria, etc.
JUST IN: Appeal Court Upholds Conviction Of Maina’s Son
The Appellate Court in Abuja has upheld the conviction of Faisal, the son of Abdulrasheed Maina, for conspiracy and money laundering.
Maina, the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team, is serving an eight-year jail term at Kuje Prison in Abuja for pension fraud to the tune of N2 billion and his son has been named an accomplice.
Meanwhile, in a judgment on Thursday, November 24, 2022, a three-member panel of the appeal court reduced the term of imprisonment from 14 years to seven years on the grounds that he (Faisal) is a first-time offender.
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In the judgement by Justice Ugochukwu Anthony Ogakwu, the court held that Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja was right to have convicted Faisal.
“But as a first-time offender, the trial court ought not to have handed the convict the maximum punishment under the law,” Ogakwu added.
Two To Die By Hanging Over Armed Robbery In Ekiti
An Ekiti State High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti has sentenced Owolabi Deji (30) and Opeyemi Oluwakomolafe (22) to death by hanging for conspiracy, armed robbery, rape, and escape from lawful custody at Ado Ekiti Prison.
The convicts were arraigned before Justice Monisola Abodunde on 13th January 2017 for committing offences bordering on conspiracy, armed robbery, rape, and escape from lawful custody at Ado Ekiti Prison on 1st December 2014.
The charge stated that “the defendants, on the 14th day of July 2015 at Oketa Area of Iluomoba Ekiti in Gbonyin LGA of Ekiti State, did conspire to commit armed robbery on Lucas Agboola and Oladele Oseyemi as well as Adeyemi Comfort on the same day at Araromi Street, Aisegba Ekiti, while armed with cutlass and gun.”
On the same date, time and place, the defendants also raped a 35-year-old woman, according to the charge, the defendants escaped from lawful custody at Ado Ekiti Prison on the 1st day of December 2014.
In his statement to the police, one of the victims said, “I was sleeping in my room around 3:00 a.m., suddenly, two armed men emerged in my bedroom, they cautioned me to cooperate if I don’t want to lose my life, they robbed me of a sum of N40,000, N2,000 belonging to my wife, they collected our phones and also raped my wife. I later got to know that they gained access to my room through the ceiling. We reported the matter at the police station and were later arrested,” he concluded.
To prove his case, the prosecutor, Barrister Ilesanmi Adelusi, called five witnesses and tendered a Dane gun, 10 handsets, one rechargeable torchlight, four handset batteries, N21,060 cash, recharge cards, a machete and statements of the defendants as exhibits.
The offences contravene sections 6(b) and 1(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap RII, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, also, Sections 357 punishable under Section 358 and Section 135 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Ekiti State, 2012.
The defendants, after rejecting five different lawyers, spoke in their defence and called two witnesses.
In his judgment, Justice Monisola Abodunde said, ‘’in my view, the defendants are compulsive pathological liars who have become hardened criminals; rather than mend their ways in prison, they escaped prison during a jailbreak and continued to unleash terror in the community until nemesis caught with them.
“They are a threat to a peaceful existence in our society and they must be made to face the reality of the consequences of their wicked behaviour.
“In conclusion, I find the two defendants guilty as charged in counts 1,2,3,5 and 6 and convicted accordingly.
“In counts 1, 2 and 3 (Armed Robbery), they are sentenced to death by hanging, having been the principal offence and may the Lord have mercy on your souls.
“They are discharged and acquitted in count 4, in count 5 (Rape) they are each sentenced to life imprisonment and in count 6 (Escape from lawful custody), they are each sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
“Sentences are to run concurrently.”
Ataga: Chidinma Makes Fresh Confession
Chidinma Ojukwu, the alleged killer of the Chief Executive Officer, Super TV, Usifo Ataga, on Thursday, told a Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, that she was slapped and forced to sign statements written by policemen in the state.
Chidinma, who testified in her trial-within-trial as defence witness one, told Justice Yetunde Adesanya that policemen including Assistant Superintendent of Police, Olusegun Bamidele, and Olufunke Madeyinlo, told her to sign statements against her will.
She said Bamidele told her to narrate the statement he wrote to the state Commissioner of Police after tearing the statement she wrote.
Chidinma is standing trial over the alleged murder of Ataga. She is also charged with stealing and forgery alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.
Addressing the court on Thursday, Chidinma, while being led in evidence in the trial-within-trial by her counsel, Onwunka Egwu, told the court that on June 23, 2021, she was in her room at home when her 10-year-old sister informed her that some men were asking after her.
The witness said, “Immediately, my sister called my Dad (her foster father, Onoh Ojukwu), who came out and asked who the men were? They said they were policemen from (SCID), Panti, and that they came to arrest me and to search the house or that I should go in and bring the (Ataga’s) phone.
“I said I don’t know where the phone and car is and one of the policemen slapped me. My dad said you cannot slap my daughter in my house and the policemen tried to enter the room from the passage.”
Chidnma said when the policemen were taking her away, she told her foster dad to call the family lawyer, Egwu, adding that when they got to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, she was taken to the office of a policeman, Razak Oseni, who, alongside other policemen, questioned her.
She said, “We went back to my house and then returned to the DCP’s office and he started questioning me. I told him I don’t know anything about the death of Mr Ataga, and that was when they made the video that was played in court.
“The DCP said I should make my statement then the IPO, Bamidele, took me to the interrogating room with Mr Chris, and gave me a blank statement form and asked me to write what happened.
“I started writing, then he (Bamidele) took my left hand and handcuffed it to the chair. I wrote what I said at the DCP’s office. While writing the statement, Bamidele read through it and said it was not what happened.”
Chidinma said she told Bamidele that she was writing what happened, adding that before she started writing the statement, she informed him to help her confirm if her foster father had called the family lawyer.
She said, “He (Bamidele) said my (foster) dad cannot make a call as he was in custody. That was when I started writing the statement. When he said the statement I wrote was not what happened, and I told him it was what happened, I received two slaps from Mr Jemiyo.
“Jemiyo and Chris sat at the back and Bamidele was facing me. He said you are going to write the truth, tore the statement I wrote, and presented another blank statement form. I told him I was writing the truth and you tore it.
“He said if I did not comply, my family, my dad, 10-year-old sister and relative will be charged in the murder case. He (Bamidele) brought out his phone, played the video obtained from the scene of the apartment and showed me pictures of Mr Ataga’s body.
“He said now you are going to write and then I started writing. He said why I am slow and I received another slap on my back. I told him that I was not feeling well and needed to rest. He (Bamidele) said there was no time, he then collected the statement form from me and he started writing. Chris then handcuffed my hands to the chair.”
Chidinma said Bamidele initially asked her questions but later stopped, adding that after he was done writing, he read the statement to her and she said what he wrote was not what happened.
She said, “He said this is what you are going to say or else my family will be charged. He read the statement to me again and told me that I should rehearse it. He said that is what I should tell the CP.
“Bamidele and Chris returned in the morning and said I should sign the statement but as I was reluctant in signing it, Chris said I should because nobody is coming for me and that they will provide me with a good government lawyer.
“After signing the statement, I was brought out of the interrogation room, given water to wash my face, and then we entered a vehicle and drove to Ikeja. When we arrived at Bamidele took me to the CP and I said what Bamidele wrote.”
She said after her interrogation at the CP’s office, she was taken down stairs where she saw a lot of people (journalists) with cameras, adding that she was not feeling well as at then.
Chidinma said, “After I was taken to the press, then we drove back to Panti where Bamidele said we are going to do a video recording, and he said I should say everything he had written in the statement and they recorded the video which was played here in court.
“I was returned to the cell; in the evening on the same June 24, Oseni brought me out of the cell, took me to an office, where Madeyinlo and another female officer Bola were. When Oseni left, I was given a blank statement form and I was told to write another statement.
“Jemiyo also walked in and I said I had already written a statement. I said I am tired and have not eaten. I was just sitting when Jemiyo came beside me and hit my head on a wooden table. This was when officer Bola had left.
“Madeyinlo said I should start writing. I picked the pen, wrote the date, my name, then she (Madeyinlo) started dictating to me and said that I should write what she said. I started writing and at the end of writing the statement, she asked me to sign.”
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