Justice Lateefat Okunnu of Ikeja High Court on Friday, Feb.21,2014, sentenced Akolade Arowolo to death over the murder of his wife, Titilayo. Arowolo was charge to court for allegedly stabbing his wife, a banker, to death on June 24, 2011 at their residence at No. 8, Akindeinde St., Isolo, Lagos
Timeline of court proceedings during the trial of the 32-year-old convict. JULY 7,2011 Akolade Arowolo is arraigned before a Yaba Magistrates’ Court for the alleged murder of his wife, Titilayo on June 24,2011. . His plea is not taken and the case is adjourned pending the advice of the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP). DEC. 21,2011 The case is transferred to the Ikeja High Court and the accused is arraigned before Justice Lateefat Okunnu. He pleads not guilty to the one-count charge of murder preferred against him.
The court remands him at Ikoyi Prison, Lagos. The case is adjourned till Jan.17,2013 for trial. JAN.17,2012 Arowolo is brought to court but the trial is stalled due to the absence of the prosecution’s first witness, Mr George Oyakhire. The Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Olabisi Ogungbesan, says that Oyakhire, who is the father of the deceased, is not available. She tells the court that the witness is in Kano and could not arrive in Lagos on time due to the nationwide protest against the removal of petroleum subsidy.
The matter is adjourned till Feb.7,2012 FEB.7,2012 The trial begins with the deceased father and sister testifying against Arowolo. Mr George Oyakhire and his daughter, Ijeh, testifies that the Arowolo’s marriage was characterised by violence and abuse. The couple’s co-tenant, Mr Adewale Adeyemi, also testifies that he heard a loud noise when he was in his apartment.
He claims he saw Arowolo rushing out with a deep cut in his palms after the incident. The court adjourns the trial till Feb.20,2012. FEB.20,2012 The prosecution tenders some evidence relating to the murder which are admitted by the court as exhibits. They include a kitchen knife, which was allegedly used in the murder of the deceased, four mobile phones and 29 crime-scene photographs taken by the police. The prosecution calls two more witnesses to give evidence in the matter.
The fourth witness, Mr Saidu Husseni, a security man at the residence of the Arowolos, admits that he was at the house on the day of the incident. Speaking in Hausa language, Husseni alleges that he saw Arowolo washing blood from his hands, while urging him to hurriedly open the gate. The fifth witness, ASP Titus Ogbonna, from the Homicide Section, State CID, Yaba, Lagos tells the court how a N100 note, stained with blood, was recovered from Arowolo’s vehicle.
The court adjourns the trial till March 20,2012 MARCH 20,2012 Ogbonna continues his testimony by claiming that investigations by the police led to a “convincing” conclusion that Titilayo was murdered by her husband. Titilayo’s step-mother, Mrs Adetoun Oyakhire, also testifies alleging that she was planning to divorce her husband before she was killed. She says Arowolo has a violent history with the deceased. The court also admits as exhibits, a blood soaked pair of jeans short, a blood soaked bed sheet and a pillow case, hammer, kitchen knife, frying spoon and a spatula.
The blood-soaked N100 note allegedly recovered from the floor of Arowolo’s Honda Accord car, after his arrest by the police is also admitted. The court adjourns further trial till March 27,2012. MARCH 27,2012 Mrs Adetoun Oyakhire is cross-examined by Arowolo’s counsel, Mr Olarenwaju Ajanaku. Oyahire insists that she had a very cordial relationship with the deceased and had counselled her to be a good wife and to always put her marital problems before God. Another prosecution witness, Mr Solomon Ailoyen, tells the court how they found Arowolo’s car in Aswani area of Lagos on the day of the incident.
The court adjourns the trial till April 24,2012 APRIL 24,2012 The trial is stalled due to the absence of the prosecution witnesses. The DPP apologises to the court for their absence. The trial is adjourned till April 25,2012 APRIL 25,2012 Another of the deceased sister, Miss Folake Oyahire, tells the court how she discovered the lifeless body of her sister after the murder.
The couple’s landlord, Mr Julius Akinloye, also testifies that another tenant told him that he saw Arowolo jumping from the balcony of his apartment on the day of the incident. The court adjourns trial till May 2,2012 MAY. 2,2012 The 10th prosecution witness, Insp. Gift Nyeche, a police forensic photographer with the State CID, Panti, Yaba is called to testify. Nyeche tells the court how he took some photographs of Arowolo’s car at the crime scene during the investigation on June 28, 2011. Attempts to tender the photographs as exhibits is rejected by the court as they are not accompanied with negatives in line with Section 86(4) of the Evidence Act, 2011.
The matter is adjourned till June 7,2012 for continuation of trial. JUNE 7,2012 The court finally admits the crime scene photographs as exhibits following the attachment of the negatives. The matter is adjourned till June 27,2012. JUNE 26,2012 The accused, Arowolo slumps in the dock during trial. He is revived by prison officials and immediately taken outside the court room to take his drugs.
Two police officers, Insp. Benson Ajie and Sgt. Bayem Cletus, have earlier testified against him during the proceedings. Ajie, who is of the Homicide Department, State CID, Panti, Yaba, and Cletus, an officer attached to the Aswani Police Station, both claim that the confessional statements made by Arowolo were obtained voluntarily. The judge adjourns the matter till June 28,2012 following Arowolo’s illness. JUNE 28,2012 Arowolo arrives at the court room at about 8.45 a.m. with the assistance of a male prison official, and sits in the gallery with his head resting on a chair. His lawyer, Mr Olarenwaju Ajanaku, tells the court that he is critically ill and cannot withstand the rigours of trial.
The court adjourns the matter till Sept.24,2012. SEPT.24,2012 Okunnu threatens to issue a warrant of arrest against Sgt. Cletus Bayem, for failing to appear in court for the continuation of the matter. The court adjourns further hearing till Sept.28,2012 SEPT.28,2012 Sgt. Cletus Bayem appears in court to conclude his testimony. The prosecution also calls a commercial photographer, Mr Julius Okolawon, to give his evidence.
He tells the court that he took seven photographs of Arowolo’s at the Aswani Police Station. The photographs are admitted by the court as exhibits. The matter is adjourned till Oct.15,2012 for continuation of trial. OCT.15,2012 A Consultant Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, tells the court that Titilayo’s body was inflicted with 76 stab wounds. Obafunwa, the Chief Medical Examiner of the Lagos State, says he conducted both external and internal examination of the body of the deceased during the autopsy.
According to him,the final result of the autopsy reveals that the death was caused by multiple injuries in the chest and abdomen due to multiple sharp wounds and long force trauma. The court adjourns the trial till Oct.22,2012. OCT.22,2012 The trial is stalled following the absence of the representative of MTN Nigeria Ltd., which was subpoenaed, to give evidence in the case.
The matter is adjourned till Nov.19,2012. NOV.19,2012 Mr Kingsley Ehebha, a member of staff of MTN Communications Ltd. appears before the court to testify. Ehebha, a fraud analyst at the company, produces Arowolo’s call records between June 1 and July 26, 2011. The call logs are admitted by the court as exhibits.
The DPP announces closure of their case against the accused. The matter is adjourned till Nov.29,2012 for Arowolo to open his defence. NOV.29,2012 The accused father, Mr Mudasiru Arowolo, opens testimony for the defence, claiming that his son did not murder Titilayo as being alleged.
He blames the trouble which rocked the Arowolo’s marriage on undue interference by Titilayo’s father and step-mother. According to him, the deceased had once threatened to kill her husband and herself during a quarrel, which happened when they visited him.
The matter was adjourned till Dec.4,2012 DEC.4,2012 The trial is stalled due to the absence of the accused mother, Mrs Bolanle Arowolo The defence counsel, Olarenwaju Ajanaku, says she is ill and apologises for her absence. The matter is adjourned till Jan.22,2013 JAN.22,2013 Mother of the accused, Mrs Bolanle Arowolo, testifies on behalf of her son who she describes as “God-fearing”. She says her late daughter-in-law was rude and troublesome, earning her the nickname “Margaret Thatcher”.
The witness also insists that his son is innocent of the crime. The court adjourns the trial till Jan.29,2013. JAN.29,2013 A defence witness, Miss Efe Omordia, called to testify on behalf of Arowolo, describes him as a role model. The witness says she works with Joy Bringers International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), involved in the counselling and rehabilitation of inmates.
According to her, the accused has shown exemplary leadership qualities in the prison environment and is a member of the prison’s recreation, reformation and rehabilitation club in Ikoyi Prison. Two other witnesses, Miss Eucharia Enofe and Mrs Taiwo Oyetola, also testifies on behalf of the defence.
The matter is adjourned till March 28,2013 for continuation of trial. MARCH 28,2013 Arowolo enters the witness box and begins the narration of his own side of the story. He tells the court that he he got married to Titilayo on Aug. 8, 2008 and the family was blessed with a baby girl few months after the marriage. According to him, ego and immaturity caused several problems between him and his wife and deprived them of marital bliss.
The court adjourns the trial till May 22,2013 MAY 22,2013 The accused continues his testimony, telling the court that he did not murder Titilayo. Arowolo says his in-laws were responsible for the trouble in his marriage to their daughter.
He claims Titilayo died after accidentally falling on a knife she was using to stab him during a quarrel on the day of the incident which was his birthday. The matter is adjourned till Sept.17,2013 for adoption of final written addresses. SEPT.17,2013 The judge adjourns the adoption of the written addresses till Oct.2,2013.
She directed the prosecution and defence to file and serve the processes before the next adjournment date. OCT.2,2013 The judge imposes a N10,000 fine on Arowolo’s counsel, Olarenwaju Ajanaku, for wasting the time of the court. Okunnu says Ajanaku’s failure to file and regularise the defence processes is a setback to the speedy conclusion of the case.
She adjourns the matter till Oct.31,2013. OCT.31,2013 Okunnu also grants Arowolo’s counsel, Mr Olarenwaju Ajanaku, an extension of time to file his written address. She adjourns the matter till Dec.4,2013 DEC.4,2013 Both the prosecution and defence adopts their final written addresses. DEC.19,2013 Parties re-adopt their written addresses. Ogungbesan asks the court to convict Arowolo of the charge.
She argues that the prosecution has prove its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. However, Olarenwaju disagrees with the prosecution asking the court to discharge and acquit Arowolo. Okunnu tells parties that date of judgment will be communicated to them. FEB.21,2014 The judge finds Arowolo guilty of the murder charge and sentences him to death. (NAN)