By Olasunkanmi Akoni
A magistrate’s court, sitting in Yaba, Lagos, on Wednesday, acquitted and freed a girl, aged 15, accused of killing her father’s friend, Babatunde Ishola, 51, who was attempting to rape her.
Her release was based on the advice of Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, that the case lacked ingredients of murder.
Delivering judgement in the case, the Presiding Magistrate, Mr. Philip Ojo, said the case file, after due consideration of facts, was duly decided that there were insufficient facts to establish a prima facie case of murder against the suspect contrary to Section 222 of the Criminal Law, Cap. C17, Vol.3 Laws of Lagos State.
The court, therefore, ruled that ingredients required to prove the offence of murder against the suspect were not all present from the facts of the case. Also, the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to the deceased could not be established.
The magistrate stressed that it was settled law that in a case of murder, defences raised by evidence, whether specifically put up by the suspect or not, must be properly considered.
He further noted that no matter how weak or stupid a defence raised by a suspect may appear, it must be properly considered.
Consequently, Philip Ojo discharged and acquitted the suspect of murder charge.
Recall that the teenager was accused of killing one Babatunde Ishola on March 7, at Nwadolu Street, Aboru, in Alimosho Local Government Area of the state, by stabbing him to death with a knife, thereby committing an offence punishable under the Criminal law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2015.
She was detained at the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (SCIID) and arraigned before Yaba Magistrate’s Court on a one-count charge.
She was, thereafter, remanded at the Correctional Home for Girls, Idi-Araba, and case adjourned for legal advice of the Lagos State DPP.
Speaking on the matter, the Director, Lagos Office of the Public Defender (OPD), Dr. Babajide Martins, expressed satisfaction with the decision of the court to release the suspect of the murder charge.
Martins appreciated the professionalism, diligence and timely advice of DPP on the matter which made it possible for the suspect to be released because no prima facie case was established against her.
He assured other indigent people being represented in various cases that OPD had been re-organised and re-engineered to deliver first-class free legal services in line with the current administration philosophy of better security and governance to all residents irrespective of gender and religion.
The Director, therefore, appealed to those that have suffered any form of rights denial, abuse and violence to visit any of the offices of OPD nearest to them for free legal service.
Martins assured members of the public that the office was still attending to the public during the lockdown within the governor`s directive.
Reacting, the parents of the girl, Ojo Taiwo and Funke, expressed appreciation to the state government and OPD for coming to their rescue with free legal services.
According to them, without such institution established by Lagos State for indigents, they would have lost hope of getting access to justice considering their low-income status in a case of such nature.