Three years after he callously killed a three year old girl Kausarat Muritala in cold blood in Lagos, Justice Olabisi Akinlade of the Lagos High Court in Ikeja yesterday sentenced ex-police corporal, Ikechukwu Nwabueze to death by hanging.
It will be recalled that Nwabueze was alleged to have in April 2009 shot at a car in which the parents, the three-year old Kausarat, and her siblings were commuting at Oba Nle Aro Bus Stop, Alapere, Ketu.
The condemned man and his colleagues took to their heels when they discovered that the there was a fatality.
However, they were later arrested, while Nwabueze who was later dismissed from the Police Force, was said to have confessed during investigation that he shot dead the deceased little girl.
The convict, however, recanted during trial, maintaining that he was coerced to make the confessional statement by the police officer who investigated the case.
The condemned man also claimed that he was not the only one that fired shots into the air and that other members of his team also did same.
The court pointed out some inconsistencies in the testimony of Nwabueze while also holding that a recanted confessional statement does not necessarily cancel its relevance.
“It is trite law that the confessional statement of a defendant is relevant regardless of the fact that it is recanted. It is also trite that a person can be convicted on the basis of the confessional statement.
“It is my opinion that the evidence of P1 is consistent with the testimonies of PW 2 and PW 3.”
The judge further held that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were not discredited during cross-examination unlike that of the defence.
According to her “By his training as a police officer he (Nwabueze) cannot claim ignorance of the probable consequences of shooting at the vehicle.
“I therefore hold that the defendant had intention to kill or cause bodily harm to the occupants of the car. I find the defendant guilty as charged.”
After court reached it decision, counsel to the defendant, A.O. Omodele made an allocutus (plea for mercy) for the convict, urging the judge to temper justice with mercy on the grounds that he was at his duty post when the offence was committed and that he was a first offender. He also said that he was a young man who was yet to be married and had a lot to contribute to the nation.
But, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs. Olabisi Ogungbesan opposed Omodele’s plea.
She said: “We do not have enough records of the defendant. Notwithstanding, the menace of police in releasing bullets recklessly on innocent citizens should be discouraged.
While passing out her sentence the court held that it is not convinced of any reason why it should show some leniency.
She therefore pronounced: “The sentence of the court upon you is that that you be hung on the neck until you are dead. And may God have mercy on your soul.”