Saturday, 2nd December 2023

Ondo court sentences 78-year-old community leader to death for murder

By Adewale Momoh (Akure) and Michael Egbejule (Benin City) 
24 June 2023   |   4:04 am
A 78-year-old community leader, Ojo Komolafe, was yesterday sentenced to death by hanging by an Ondo State High Court over the killing of a school proprietor, Taofik Babalola.

[FILES] Court. PHOTO: iStock

. Task Force Arrests Man, Girlfriend For Selling Baby In Edo
A 78-year-old community leader, Ojo Komolafe, was yesterday sentenced to death by hanging by an Ondo State High Court over the killing of a school proprietor, Taofik Babalola.
The septuagenarian reportedly killed the school proprietor with a gun on August 7, 2021, at Kajola axis of Odigbo Local Council of the state.
According to the prosecutor, H.M. Falowo, who called four witnesses – the deceased’s wife, a neighbour, a police officer and a pathologist, told the court that the victim was sleeping when he was shot in the thigh.
During her testimony, Babalola, the wife of the deceased, stated that she heard a gunshot and immediately ran out, only to see the convict holding a gun in the corridor.
She said: “I saw the defendant coming out of my husband’s room. I took to my heels with the fear that he could also shoot me.

“Thereafter, I rushed to my husband’s room and met him on his bed in the pool of his blood, shouting with his last breath that Komolafe shot him. I rushed out and called people to come to my aid, but my husband died in the process.”
However, the convict denied the allegations and claimed that the deceased’s wife was coerced into mentioning his name.

He alleged that some cultists, whom he had reported for arson, conspired with Mrs. Babalola to testify against him. The defendant further stated that he was at home with his wife at the time of the incident, adding that they heard the gunshot.
In his verdict, Justice Yemi Fasanmi noted that there were inconsistencies in the defendant’s statement.
Justice Fasanmi held that the claim that some people conspired against the convict was a mere assumption. “It is my finding that the defendant caused the death of the deceased by shooting him with a gun at a close range, which subsequently led to his death.
“The deceased was also seen fleeing the scene of the crime. On the whole, I find the defendant guilty of the two counts as charged. You (the defendant) are hereby sentenced to be hanged on the neck until you die in the first count and seven years imprisonment for the second count.”
Meanwhile, the Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking has apprehended a 48-year-old man, Anthony Igbinogun, and his girlfriend, Joy Umukoro, 28, for allegedly selling their one-month-old baby to fund their drug addiction. 
The suspects were arrested with their friend, 26-year-old Precious James, who facilitated the illegal transaction and linked them to the baby’s buyer in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. 
Briefing journalists in Benin City, the Head of the Investigation Unit of the Taskforce, Abigail Ihonre, said the baby was sold for N1.7 million, noting that investigation was ongoing to rescue the baby and also apprehend the buyer.  

According to Ihonre, “our investigations revealed that Umukoro, the mother of the baby, delivered the baby in April 2023, and conspired with her boyfriend to sell the baby for N1.7 million. She has confessed to the crime.” 

She noted: “Investigation into the case continues as we intensify efforts to locate the buyers and the baby as the matter will be charged to Court latest on Monday, June 26, 2023, so that everyone culpable is made to face the wrath of the law for their criminal activities. 
“The suspects said they carried out the dastardly act because they couldn’t take care of the baby. These people are alleged drug addicts and when it was clear that they couldn’t take care of the baby, they decided to sell him. But that wasn’t the best option for them as the decision may destroy their lives.” 
The baby’s mother confessed to the police that they sold the baby to a willing buyer in Port Harcourt for N700, 000, noting that N500, 000 was paid cash; N170, 000 was given to the agent that took her to the buyer while others were used for drugs.

“After giving birth to the baby, life became very difficult and I approached my friend to help me with a buyer and she gave me the link. I traveled to Port Harcourt with another woman and sold the baby for N700, 000. The drugs I take are the cause. I also sent some money to my other two children for upkeep and some others for my father’s burial,” she confessed.