Policemen in Lagos State, Nigeria were on Thursday thrown into a big shock by a Lagos High Court following the court’s verdict of death by hanging on a policeman who shot dead a three-year old girl.
Justice Olabisi Akinlade of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja sentenced a police corporal, Okechukwu Nwabueze to death by hanging, for shooting to death a three-year old girl.
The 35-year old Corporal Nwabueze, a native of Delta State was convicted for killing the victim on April 5, 2009 at a check point located at Obanle-Aro, near Mr. Bigg’s in Alapere, Ketu area, Lagos. He was arrested immediately and charged to court for murder.
He has been remanded at Ikoyi Prison over the last three years, for the duration of the trial.
While the trial was on, three witnesses testified for the prosecution including the deceased’s father and Professor John Obafunwa, a pathologist and now the Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University(LASU), Ojo, Lagos.
Justice Akinlade in his judgement held that the prosecution had proved the case beyond reasonable doubt. She said Nwabueze killed the girl on purpose.
The judge also noted that in his defence, the convict gave contradictory account of what happened on the day the girl was killed, but admitted he expended two rounds of ammunition that day.
The judge noted that the convict claimed that he shot into the air to scare the driver of the car who allegedly refused to stop. In his testimony, the father claimed that the police did not stop them and that he heard a gun shot a few metres from the check point.
Owing to the prosecution’s ability to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, Justice Akinlade sentenced Nwabuee to death by hanging. Pronouncing his judgement, Akinlade said, “The Only statutory punishment for murder is death penalty. Accordingly, the sentence of the court upon you, ex-Corporal Ikechukwu Nwabueze is that you be hanged by neck until you be dead and may the Lord have mercy on your soul.”
She added: “He cannot claim that he was not aware of the consequence of the action. He had the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily injuries when he fired at the back of the car.” She enthused how important it is that such cases end that way so as to serve as deterrent to reckless police officers.
Nwabueze served at Ketu Police Division before he was transferred to Alapere division. After the judgement, his colleagues were at the police station heard discussing the ill fate that befell him while they prayed that God should save him. They described him as a gentle man who is always fostering peace.
Reports say members of his family and friends are planning to file an appeal against the judgment.