A Magistrate Court Sitting in Yaba, Lagos State , has freed a 15 years old teenager (name withheld) accused of killing her father`s friend. The 51 years old Babatunde Ishola, was alleged to have attempted to rape her while she was running errands for him.
It was learnt that her release was based on legal advice of the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution stating that the case lacked ingredients of murder. Delivering judgement in the case, the Presiding magistrate, Mr. Philip Adebowale Ojo said the case file after due consideration of facts, it 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 court ruled that clear intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to the deceased could not be established.
According to the Court ” it is 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. The court further noted that no matter how weak or stupid a defence raised by a suspect may appear, it must be properly considered. Consequently, Mr. Philip Ojo discharged and acquited the suspect of murder charge.
It would be recalled that the teenager was represented by the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender (OPD) since inception of the matter, period of detention and investigation at the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (SCIID) and arraignment before Yaba Magistrate Court on a one-count charge of killing Babatund Ishola on March 7,2020 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 thereafter remanded at the Correctional Home for Girls, Idi-Araba and case adjourned for legal advice of the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions.
Speaking outside the Court, the Director, Lagos Office of the Public Defender (OPD), Dr. Babajide Martins was said to have expressed satisfaction with the decision of the court to free the girl of murder charge. In a statement released by the OPD Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Mamud Hassan, Martins was said to have appreciated the professionalism, diligence and timely advice of DPP on the matter which made it possible for the girl to be released on the ground that no prima facie case was established against her.
He assured other indigent people being represented in various cases,saying, that OPD has 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 office of OPD nearest to them for free legal service. He further assured members of the public that the office was still attending to the public during the lockdown within the governor`s directive.
In their comment, the parents of the girl, Ojo Taiwo And Funke expressed deep appreciation to the Lagos state government and Office of the Public Defender ( OPD) for coming to their rescue with free legal services. According to them, without such institution established by the Lagos state for indigents, they would have lost hope of getting access to justice considering their low income status in a case of this nature.