23rd May, 2011
A police sergeant, Kalejaiye Ola, is to die by hanging for shooting to death Paul Erimafa with his service AK 47 rifle on 23 June 2003 at Central Road in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The deceased was alleged to have been involved in robbery shortly before the accused went after him.
Justice Roland Amaize of the Benin High Court who handed down the judgment on Monday, held that the act of the convict was pre-meditated and not the defence of accidental discharge as offered by the convicted police sergeant.
He said the convict had initially reported a case of armed robbery against the deceased which was discovered to be false, and that the policeman must have taken advantage of being a law enforcement agent to terminate the life of the deceased, adding that there was no justification for the convict to have shot and killed the deceased who was harmless as at the time of the incident.
Here was a person that was in no position to pose any threat to someone that was armed and there was no evidence that he was wielding any dangerous weapon or refusing order and there was no evidence either if he was running away from the custody of the police, the judge said.
Justice Amaize held that there were contradictions in the convictâ€™s extra-judicial statement and his oral testimony in court was not convincing to the extent that it can prove his innocence of the crime and all evidence before the court pointed to the direction of the convict as being guilty of the crime.
The judge said there was evidence from the police doctor who performed a post-morten on the corpse of the deceased showing damaged urinary bladder and profuse bleeding which led to the death of the victim.
The bleeding that followed the gun shots caused grievous injuries that eventually resulted in the death of the deceased.
The court held that the evidence of one of the expert prosecution witnesses on the handling of arms and ammunition showed that AK47 rifle was at the safety cache when the incident occurred.
Justice Amaize also held that the evidence of another prosecution witness present at the scene of crime as at the time of the murder was not challenged.
The court held that the evidence of a witness in charge of police armoury called by the convict was questionable as there was no summons on him to come and testify in court. This rendered the witness unacceptable to the court and made it difficult for the court to believe the evidence of a man that has no business in a case in the temple of justice.
Furthermore, the court observed that the witness said he was called by the police commissioner and instantly told to go to court to give evidence on arm and ammunition.
The question then is, who has the power to subpoena a witness, the court or the police? the court asked.
On the whole, the court held that the prosecution proved the case of murder against the convict beyond reasonable doubt as stated by law.
It consequently sentenced Sergeant Kalejaiye Ola to death by hanging under section 319 of the Criminal Code.
And in accordance with the Criminal Code section 319 of Edo state the accused must therefore die by hanging as this will serve as deterrent to trigger happy law enforcement agents that have little or no regard for the sanctity of human life in our country, the judge ruled.
ByÂ Yomi Obaditan/ Benin City