By Akinwale Akintunde in Lagos and Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of an Ikeja High Court yesterday, sentenced to death by hanging, a 27-year old man, Oluwaseun Oladapo for the murder of Mr. Kunle Fadipe, a Lagos based human rights lawyer.
In Bayelsa, two young men, Izibefien Tamuno and Izibekuma George, were adjudged responsible for the death of Edi Kolu, a Bayelsa government official in a mob attack have been sentenced to death. He was said to be on an official duty to a community in Yenagoa. Justice Nayai Aganaba, ordered that the duo should be hanged.
On Fadipe, the judge sentenced Oladapo to death after finding him guilty on a five-count charge of murder, armed robbery and assault occasioning harm.
Justice Ipaye in her in a two-hour judgment said, “I pronounce you guilty and sentenced to death.
“On count one, you Oluwaseun Oladapo, is to be hung by the neck till you are dead.
“On count three, you Oluwaseun Oladapo, is to be hung by the neck till you are dead.
“On count four, you Oluwaseun Oladapo is sentenced to three years in prison.
“On count five, you Oluwaseun Oladapo is sentenced to three years in prison.
“The terms of imprisonment of counts three, four and five is that they should run consecutively.
“This is the judgment of the court.”
According to the prosecution led by Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Mrs. Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Oladapo, allegedly murdered the lawyer at 3am on July 4, 2014 at his residence located at No. 1 Harmony Estate, Ifako-Ijaiye, Iju, Lagos.
The convict was also charged with the murder of Mrs. Cecelia Owolabi, the mother-in-law to the late Fadipe, but the charge of murder was commuted to assault occasioning harm by the court.
Justice Ipaye explained that the reason why the murder charge of Owolabi was rejected was because the prosecution failed to prove a direct link between the actions of the Oladapo and the death of Madam Cecelia Owolabi.
“He is however, found guilty of the assault occasioning harm of Madam Cecelia Owolabi.”
During the trial, the wife of the late lawyer, Mrs. Kemi Fadipe, in her testimony gave a graphic narration of the events of the night of the murder.
Kemi, a school proprietress said: “My husband came in late from the office at 10pm and he was preparing for a flight to Abuja the following day, we both had retired to our bedroom.
“Our home is a five – bedroom duplex and there was no electricity that night, the home was well lit because the generator was on.
“At 11.45pm, power was restored and my son Folahanmi went to put off the generator, a few minutes after he left, he came running upstairs screaming for help.
“He had a stab wound on his head and was being pursued by the defendant who was armed with a knife.
“The commotion alerted my husband and I and we rushed to the ante-room upstairs where we saw the defendant and Folahanmi.
“The defendant was saying that someone had to die today and demanded N500,000, threatening us that members of his gang had surrounded the house.
“We knelt down to plead with him and my husband instructed me to get a white envelope containing cash from the jacket of his suit.
“When the envelope was handed over to the defendant, he was dissatisfied and demanded for laptops and phones and we told him those items were downstairs.
“He for no reason, lunged at Folahanmi with a knife and my husband stepped in to save him and he was stabbed in his neck and his chest.”
Kemi said after her husband was stabbed, Oladapo ran downstairs where he unfortunately encountered her mother.
“My mother came out from her bedroom downstairs to investigate the source of the commotion and the defendant ran into her, stabbing her in the chest.”
“I, the maid and my sister struggled with him in the living room downstairs, he was hit on the head with a stabiliser but he was behaving in a wild and crazed manner and very strong and hard to subdue.
“My husband and Folahanmi ran out to get help but my husband collapsed in the premises.
“Folahanmi got help from the security guard of the estate who subdued the defendant by shooting him with a gun.”
She said that Fadipe was rushed to a hospital where he gave up the ghost at 4am, her mother who came to Lagos from Ibadan for an eye operation was discharged from the hospital but died in Ibadan from the shock and trauma of the incident two weeks later.
“My son Folahanmi, a student of one of the tertiary institutions in the country, lost a year of school due to the trauma of the head and chest injuries he sustained during the attack,” Kemi said.
Miss Biola Owolabi, the sister-in-law to the late lawyer in her testimony during the trial attested to the strength of Oladapo.
“He scaled the fence of the house and lay in wait at the generator house where he threatened and attacked Folahanmi whom had come to put off the generator.
“It was difficult to subdue him during the frenzied attack, he was like a man possessed, he had the strength of 10 men, everyone sustained injuries” she said.
A pathologist, Dr. Sunday Soyemi in his testimony, revealed the cause of Fadipe’s death.
“The cause of death was rapid and severe blood loss caused by the severe slice of the left jugular vein,” Soyemi said.
Mr. Bamidele Sanni, a security guard at the Harmony Estate had testified during the trial that he shot Oladapo on the leg to incapacitate him.
Oladapo had in his own testimonies in Yoruba language, denied committing the offence.
He said 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 and woke up four days later at the police station,” he said.
On Kolu, the prosecution told the court that the two convicts killed the victim while he was on official duty with other staff from the office of the Surveyor-General of Bayelsa.
They maintained that Kolu who until his death was a staff of the office of the Surveyor General of Bayelsa, was killed when he and other government officials had gone to demarcate a boundary between Opolo community and Okutukutu in Yenagoa.
The prosecution stated that the deceased was carrying out his mandate in accordance with a judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in favour of Opolo community on the 21st day of May, 2015.
Messrs Tamuno and George of Okutukutu and Etegwe towns respectively, were subsequently sentenced for the murder of the surveyor by Justice Aganaba.
THISDAY learnt that the surveyor, Mr. Kolu, was supervising the exercise when he strolled into an “unprotected area”, unaware that angry youths from Okutukutu were monitoring his movement.
The mob, armed with weapons, reportedly trailed the surveyor, caught and slaughtered him, while the driver of a bulldozer, which was also in the government team, was inflicted with a deep cut on his head while attempting to escape from the angry mob.
Though the surveyor was still breathing when help came his way, it was gathered that the nearest hospital was located at Okutukutu, the community the mob hailed from, fueling fears that he and his helpers might be attacked in the hospital.
He was said to have given up the ghost while being rushed to a distant hospital, before the case which was first investigated by the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, started.