Lagos court sentences man to death via online judgment

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Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, has sentenced a driver, Olalekan Hameed, to death by hanging via online judgment delivered by Justice Mojisola Dada.

The judgment was the first trial of virtual court sessions approved by Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, in line with the Lagos State Judiciary Remote Hearing of Cases during the COVID-19 Pandemic period.

The online session via a video app called Zoom began at 11am and ended before 2pm. The judge, the defendant, his team of counsel, the prosecution team led by Lagos State Solicitor-General, Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey and all witnesses participated in from different remote locations.

Read also: COVID-19: Supreme Court plans virtual proceedings

Hameed was found guilty of murder of Mrs Jolasun Okunsanya, 76, the mother of his employer, Adetayo on December 1, 2018. He was arraigned on March 6, 2019 on a two-count charge of murder and stealing. He pleaded not guilty, following which trial commenced.

The court heard that he committed the offence at about 12:30pm at plot 83, Owukori Crescent, Alaka Estate, Surulere, Lagos.

The prosecution called several witnesses and tendered exhibits including the coroner’s report, stolen N97,500 and $117 recovered from the defendant and a confessional statement, among others.

“The only money I took was the N1,000, any other money I don’t know about it. I did not kill Mrs Jolaso Ogunsanya,” Hakeem told the judge during the trial.

But Justice Dada noted that prosecution-witnesses’ testimonies that Hakeem was the only one with the deceased at the time of death and was also seen scaling the fence of the deceased’s building afterwards, among others, were not disproved.

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She said: “It is also an established fact that although the defendant went to the house of the crime to steal, the surprise of the deceased stumbling upon him, led him to not just pushing the deceased, but actually strangulating her in a bid to keep her from crying out.

“The case is clear… I have not found any contradiction with the evidence of the prosecution witness that can be deemed material or weighty enough to cast any doubt on the case of the prosecution against the defendant in this case… The facts of the case are incompatible with the innocence of the defendant but rather his guilt on the two counts.

“… the defendant is hereby found guilty of this count two of murder and is hereby convicted as charged and accordingly sentenced to death.

“The sentence of this court upon you, Olalekan Hameed, is that you be hanged by the neck until you be pronounced dead and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul. This is the virtual judgment of the court.”

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Top members of the Judiciary and Ministry of Justice also participated in the proceedings virtually.

Justice Dada conducted proceedings from High Court 10 in Ikeja, the defendant Hameed was at Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre, Apapa while the counsel were at different locations.

Prison officials and select members of the press, participated remotely. Judicial Officers including Justice Alogba, Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, Justice Josephine Oyefeso, Justice Sherifat Solebo, Justice Afeez Dabiri, Justice Roli Harriman, amongst others, also participated.

Participants from the bar included the State’s Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), the prosecutor, Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey, and some senior lawyers like Funke Adekoya SAN, Tayo Oyetibo SAN, Olukayode Enitan SAN, amongst others.

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