By Abdulwahab Abdulah
An Ikeja High Court yesterday sentenced 27-year-old Oluwaseun Oladapo, to death by hanging for murdering a Lagos based human rights lawyer, Mr Kunle Fadipe and his mother-in-law, Mrs Cecilia Owolabi.
In her judgement, justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye found Oladapo guilty on a five-count charge of murder, armed robbery and assault occasioning harm pressed against him by the state.
Handing down her sentence, Justice said: “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 concurrently. This is the judgment of the court.”
Earlier before the sentence was passed, counsel to the convict, Mr Worer Obuagbaka pleaded for mercy on behalf of the convict.
“I ask this honourable court to give him a second chance, he is a young man who is still useful to society, I urge this honourable court to please temper justice with mercy,” Obuagbaka said.
Responding, prosecuting counsel, Mrs O.A Olugasa said: “The deceased was not given a second chance, his children were not given a second chance to have their father with them.
“I urge the court to give the harshest punishment to the convict so that justice can be seen to be done.”
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 prosecution was 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, 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.
Explaining the reason for why the murder charge of Owolabi was rejected, Justice Ipaye said: “The prosecution did not prove a direct link between the actions of the defendant 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 details of how the lawyer was murdered.
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 rushed to the anti-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 after 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 nice 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.
“When I got to the Fadipe home, the defendant was still difficult to subdue, I shot him in the leg to incapacitate him and I put a call to the police at the Iju Police Station.
However, Oladapo, while testifying in yoruba in his defence, denied committing the offence.
According to him, 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 the hospital, I fainted again and woke up four days later at the police station,” he said.