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‘Do not pervert justice…’



The late Badmus

Drama in court over alleged murder of 20-year-old man in Akure 

DRAMA ensued at a Chief Magistrate’s Court sitting at Olukayode area of Akure, Ondo State capital on Monday, when the state counsel, defence counsel and the lawyer holding brief for the family of a deceased person, engaged in a heated argument over the murder trial of one 20-year-old Badmus Oluwatobi on July 21, 2014 by three police corporals.

Arguments climaxed when the state counsel, Alaba Ogunyemi, who took over the prosecution from the Prosecution Officer of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and filed a new count charge, contradicted the counsel to the family of the deceased, Remi Oyebanji, when he asked the court for the charge sheet, saying the senior colleague could only be seen and not heard.

But Oyebanji, the counsel holding brief for Badmu’s family, lamented the hostility of the state counsel. He noted that the court was a temple of justice and “the drive to ensure that justice is achieved in the murder case behoves on everyone in the courtroom to discharge his or her duty without fear or favour and serve as watchdog in the proceedings.”

On that fateful day, the late Badmus was accused of stealing a Blackberry phone that was missing during a praise night on June 23, 2014, at a church headed by one Evangelist Bisi Adedugbagbe.

The owner of the stolen phone, Salawu Wale, gave the picture of the deceased as the suspected thief. The Guardian learnt that young Badmus was identified in the picture and after they trailed him to one of his uncles, Sola Oke’s house, at No 4, Titi Adeja Street, Okuta Elerinla, Akure, the missing phone was found on him.

The prophet, 50, decided to make the late suspect confess to the theft by handing him over to some police corporals at the “B” Division Police Station, Akure, where three policemen took the law into their hands and carried out investigations illegally.

The corporals attached to the crime department of the division Adekunle Adedeji, 32, F/No. 454484; Awodeyi Adesola, 30, F/No. 447602 handcuffed Badmus and took him to a dilapidated storey building behind the station to brutalize the deceased to a coma.

On getting home after series of dehumanizing torture, according to reports made available to The Guardian, Badmus started vomiting and attempts to save his life proved abortive as he gave up the ghost during treatment in a hospital.

The father of the deceased, Chief Raheem Akinfolayemi, who was bereaved of his only son, demanded for his son’s autopsy at the state hospital where it was confirmed by Dr. Stephen Osasan, Dr. Olumuyiwa Pelemo and Professor Olusegun Ojo that the death was not natural.

Several petitions were written to the legal department of the Force Headquarters of the NPF, where it was gathered that the incumbent Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, then recommended that the three corporals be dismissed from the force and charged for murder and conspiracy.

The case has come up severally for hearing at the High Court and Chief Magistrate’s Court, while the deceased’s family and their counsel, Oyebanji, berated the state Ministry of Justice over attempts to pervert the course of justice in the case, saying: “For the first time we saw in an open court a palpable connivance between the first and third accused counsel and the counsel representing the state.”

However, the state Ministry of Justice prayed in its application at the High Court that the accused persons, including the prophet who handed the late suspect to the dismissed police be released, but the bail application was struck out by the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Olamide.

The corporals attached to the crime department of the division Adekunle Adedeji, 32, F/No. 454484; Awodeyi Adesola, 30, F/No. 447602 handcuffed Badmus and took him to a dilapidated storey building behind the station to brutalize the deceased to a coma.

The first dramatic turn took place when the four accused persons were absent for trial in the courtroom for no reason, but the Chief Magistrate, Charity Adeyanju, insisted that the police must present them during the proceedings.

The case was stood down till 11. 00 a.m. and another case was called where the application of the Badmus family was granted. The court ordered the police to release the corpse of late Badmus in the State Specialist Hospital to the family for burial after 13 months; and when the accused persons were brought to the court, the 4th accused person, Adedugbagbe was discharged and acquitted.

The new charge, (MAK/0/90c/2015) read: “That you Awodeyi Adesola, Adekunle Adedeji and Adepetu Olamilekan on the 21st July, 2014 at “B”Division Police Station Akure did unlawfully kill one Oluwatobi Mohammed Badmus, as the death occurred shortly after the deceased left the police station and thereby committed the offence of manslaughter, contrary to Section 317 and punishable under Section 325 of the Criminal Code Cap 37 Vol 1. Laws of Ondo State of Nigeria, 2006.”

Counsel for the accused persons, Steve Adebowale, pleaded for bail on liberal terms, saying the death occurred as a result of “occupational hazard” and that the second accused person was suffering from tuberculosis and had not been allowed treatment by the force, whom he acclaimed his clients were serving before the incident happened.

He described the treatment by the police who also declined him access to his clients severally in their custody as the case of “dogs eating their own,” assuring the court that his clients have worthy sureties and would not jump bail.

The state counsel, Ogunyemi, objected the bail application saying the defence counsel cannot establish good grounds and credibility for such application because of the seriousness of the charges, the strength of the evidence against the accused and the likelihood of the applicants being available thereafter to stand trial.

Chief Magistrate Adeyanju granted bail to the three accused persons, asking them to pay N500,000 each, with a senior civil servant who has three years tax clearance, and adjourned the case till September 30.

When speaking with journalists, Oyebanji who affirmed that the accused persons were entitled to bail based on the discretion of the judge or magistrate, however, argued that it must be granted judicially and judiciously, faulting the conditions presented for the application.

For the umpteenth time, he cried foul in the proceedings, referring to the new charge from “murder and conspiracy” to “manslaughter,” the status of the first accused’s father, Awodeyi Adesola, whom he said is a retired colonel in the army, a PDP chieftain and one of his relatives whom he also noted is highly placed in the judiciary, alleged of using their position and influence to pervert justice.

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