The verdict of death by hanging on a policeman who shot dead a three-year old girl by a Lagos High Court yesterday has thrown policemen in Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria into a big shock.
The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, presided over by Justice Olabisi Akinlade sentenced to death by hanging, a police corporal, Okechukwu Nwabueze for shooting to death a three-year old girl, Kaosara Muritala.
The 35-year old Corporal Nwabueze who hails from Delta State, Southsouth Nigeria, was convicted for killing the victim on 5 April, 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.
Since then, he has been remanded at Ikoyi Prison during the trial that lasted about for three years.
During the trial, 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, ASU, Ojo, Lagos.
Delivering judgement in the matter yesterday, Justice Akinlade held that the prosecution had proved the case beyond reasonable doubt. She said Nwabueze deliberately killed the girl.
The judge noted that in his defence, the convict gave contradictory account of what happened on that fateful day but admitted he expended two rounds of ammunition that day.
The judge also 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.
Justice Akinlade upheld the case of the prosecution and sentenced Nwabueze to death by hanging.
“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,” the judge pronounced.
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 pointed out that the punishment would serve as a deterrent to policemen who recklessly ‘cut short the lives of innocent Nigerians’
Nwabueze was a part time final year student of University of Lagos where he was studying Business Administration.
He enlisted into the Nigeria Police in 2005 and rose to the rant of corporal before the incident happened.
He served at Ketu Police Division before he was transferred to Alapere division.
He was still single. Some of the officers who knew him expressed shock and lamented that such fate befell him.
At the police station yesterday, they were seen discussing the matter and prayed to God to save their embattled colleague from the gallow.
Meanwhile P. M. NEWS gathered that members of his family and friends are rallying round to file an appeal against the judgment.
They described him as an easy-going person who was at peace with his fellow colleagues.