By OLAYINKA AJAYI
Following the circumstances surrounding the death of Miss Ranti Moradeyo , the late girl friend of Olushola Adepetu, which led to life imprisonment of Adepetu, family members of the convict are yet to come to terms with the incarceration of their son 23years after, as the circumstantial evidence used by the trial judge of the High Court in Oyo State was alleged to have been inconclusive and not well investigated by the police, whereas the family of the deceased believes justice has been done.
In an encounter with the coordinator for Centre for Justice, Mercy and Reconciliation, CJMR, a Christian prison ministry based in Ibadan, Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi, whose NGO is championing the cause of Adepetu’s freedom, he lamented how injustice in Oyo State for a while has caused the convict to remain in prison for this long.
“I strongly believe that there is injustice in this case. If someone is claiming that he is innocent of a crime for over 23years and nobody cares to listen to his own side of the story, I think such person will be drowned in the ocean of injustice.
Olushola Adepetu’s cry over his innocence was what drew my attention. I know as a lay man that there are lots of questions surrounding the judgment which I have been trying to probe, after all the essence of publishing law reports is to show public how justice is being done”, Olujobi stated.
The pastor added, “When you write a letter for prerogative of mercy, you must agree that you committed the offense and you should be pardoned, but Olushola insists he cannot ask for forgiveness for what he has not done, stressing that he is a victim of injustice”.
The coordinator of CJMR went on, “Going through the judgment even as a lay man, there are so many unanswered questions. When you ask an accused person to write a letter indicating that he should agree he had committed a crime he knew nothing about because he wants to gain his freedom and he insists he will never do such a thing; that means he knows what he is saying. I have known him since 2007; he insists he did not commit the crime”. He said elder statesman, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, intervened on the issue when he wrote an appeal letter to Oyo State governor on behalf of Adepetu praying for prerogative of mercy in 2009.
“Alhaji Jakande, a former governor of Lagos State, wrote a letter to erstwhile Oyo State Governor Otunba Alao Akala in respect of Adepetu. We are aware of Jakande’s letter to Governor Ajimobi as well”, Olujobi stated.
“My interaction with the Attorney General of Oyo State, however, revealed that he had a pre-conceived notion that Olushola Adepetu forged the letter of Alhaji Jakande and that he cut the breast of the late girlfriend for ritual purposes. I was so shocked hearing that because he never told me that Alhaji Jakande was intervening on his matter and he never told me that any part of the body of the deceased was missing.
“I told the Attorney General that I would carry out my investigation and, without Olushola Adepetu’s knowledge, we went to Lagos to confirm the authenticity of the letter from Alhaji Jakande. Baba told us that he was the author of the letter and he wrote another letter through us to the governor and the Attorney General.
Then we attached our report to the letter and forwarded it to the Attorney General and the governor which was the clearance of the first allegation. On the second allegation, I went to the court registry to obtain the Certified True Copy of the case file which contained the police and doctor’s reports which never said anything about any part of the deceased missing and the police that evacuated the corpse of the deceased never said that any part of the deceased was missing as well.
“After we submitted our findings, eight people were commuted from death-row to life imprisonment in October 2013 and they did not attend to Olushola Adepetu’s case. Also on January 1, 2014, five out of those committed murder with evidence were pardoned and their case files had not even gone to the Court of Appeal. It clearly shows that there is political interest in state pardon. I am not against their being pardoned, but if some people committed an offense with strong evidence five years ago and they were pardoned, why can’t someone that had been imprisoned of a crime without concrete evidence for 23years be pardoned?
“My findings show that the governor and the Attorney-General are not the problem; they were only acting on information presented to them. If they have been misinformed, it is my duty to let the public see the facts of the matter and it is evident that the governor sometimes can be misled. In 1979, Chief Bola Ige, as the Oyo State governor then, was misled to sign the execution of two brothers when their judgment was yet to come out from the Court of Appeal.
When the judgment came, they were discharged and acquitted; meanwhile they had been executed. Where there is proven perversion of injustice, it is my duty to speak out”.