An Ado- Ekiti High Court on Monday discharged and acquitted four defendants, Ebenezer Faluru, 27, Onome Oghenekevwe, 28, Sanya Alufoge, 31, and Folorunso Dada, 42, charged with the murder of two policemen
The defendants, standing trial before Justice Lekan Ogunmoye, were arraigned on Sept. 28, 2021, on nine counts of conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, assault occasioning harm, riot, unlawful possession of firearms and arson.
According to the charge, the defendants, individually and jointly, conspired between April 14 and April 16, 2017, at Igbara-Odo Ekiti in Ekiti South West Local Government Area of Ekiti State, within the jurisdiction of the court, to murder Cpl. Tunde Oyedeji and Cpl. Ayilumo Ojo.
It also said that the quartet attempted to murder Oba Edward Jaiyeola, the Arajaka of Igbara-Odo Ekiti, assaulted Sgt. Kehinde Sulyman, and conducted themselves in a riotous manner while in possession of an AK47 rifle.
The defendants were also alleged to have destroyed a Toyota Jeep, Toyota Camry and the Palace of Oba Edward Jaiyeola.
The offences, the prosecution Counsel, Mr Dolapo Oyewole, said, contravened Sections 516, 319, 320, 355, 71 and 451 of the Criminal Code Cap. C16, Laws of Ekiti State of Nigeria, 2012.
And also Section 3 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap. R11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
In his evidence during trial, the Investigative Police officer said “I and some officers were in Igbara Odo Ekiti to unravel a civil unrest in the town around 2:00 a.m.
“We acted on a tip-off that an AK47 rifle, earlier seized from a Police officer by some errant youths was in possession of the defendants.
`When they were arrested, they took us to where the rifle was kept with its empty magazine. The defendants were taken to the station while the rifle was handed over to the Divisional Police Officer in the area.
To prove its case, the prosecution called three witnesses and tendered cutlass, the AK47 rifle, pictures of the destroyed properties, photographs of a deceased person, empty magazine among others as exhibits.
The defendants, represented by their counsel, Christopher Omokhafe and Adefolaju Ayobioloja, in their own defence, denied knowing anything about the offences committed and called nine witnesses to prove their innocence.
In his judgment, Justice Ogunmoye said that there was no proof before the court that the defendants met together before, during and after the incident and agreed to commit the offence of murder.
He said that neither was there evidence that the defendants knew each other or that they knew anything about the riot which resulted in the deaths of Cpl. Tunde Oyedeji and Cpl. Ayilumo Ojo.
“In all, the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt against the defendants in any of the counts, thus, implying that the sole issue for determination must be resolved in their favor.
“The defendants are hereby discharged and acquitted,’’ the judge ruled. (NAN)