A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja on Tuesday sentenced a vandal, Clement Ododomu, to death by hanging and Tiwei Monday to 16 years imprisonment at the Nigerian Correctional Service.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi who had handed down the verdict on October 11, 2023, convicted Ododomu and Monday after he found them guilty of the offences of murder and conspiracy.
The judge had reserved judgment for Tuesday, November 14, 2023, but the judgment could not go on due to the Nigerian Labour Congress strike action.
Delivering the judgment on Tuesday, Justice Oshodi held that after a careful consideration of facts before the court and the demeanour of the convicts, which he termed as ‘unremorseful’, sentenced the convicts accordingly.
The judge held that the allocutus by the defence counsel, Mr Olusegun Akande, who had on October 11, 2023, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy, was replied by the Director, Department of Public Prosecutions, Dr Babajide Martins.
The convicts, who are vandals, were arraigned for killing seven officers of the Department of State Services in the Ikorodu area of the state.
The judge said: “The court has considered the allocutus of the defence counsel. However, the position of the law is binding to us all. As noted above, the first defendant was convicted on counts one, five, seven, nine, and 10, while the second defendant was convicted on counts one and 10.
“This is as contained in the information filed, dated January 13, 2017. The provisions of this section of the law are as follows: Count one, the count convicted the first and second defendants.
“This count is brought contrary to Section 233 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2015, liable to a conviction of 14 years.
“On counts five and seven, the first defendant on these counts, which is contrary to Section 233 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015, provides that anyone who commits murder shall be sentenced to death.”
According to Oshodi, on count nine, the first defendant is brought under Section 298 (3) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015, hence, liable to not less than 14 years but not more than 20 years imprisonment.
Also, on count 10, both the first and second defendants were convicted under Section 410 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015, and are liable to two years imprisonment.
The judge held that the claim of defence that the defendants were in Lagos for the funeral of their grandmother was a ruse.
Justice Oshodi held that the defence failed to provide essential witnesses to corroborate the claim.
He, however, held that the prosecution was not able to prove that the second defendant was guilty of murder.
Oshodi said that the evidence before the court showed that it was one Agbala and the first defendant who killed the operatives.
The judge further held that the prosecution was able to prove that the two defendants participated in the ambush of the operatives.
He, therefore, discharged and acquitted the convicts on counts two, three, four, six, and eight because the prosecution was unable to prove the allegations against them.
Oshodi said, “The court has observed the demeanour of the defendants and came to the conclusion that they felt no remorse with regard to the allegations they were facing.
“They informed the court that they do not understand the English language, whereas, in the recording, they both were conversing in English.
“The Ododomu and Monday are hereby sentenced to imprisonment for 14 years for count 10 and the first and second convicts are hereby sentenced to imprisonment for two years for count nine.
“Ododomu is hereby sentenced to imprisonment for 20 years. The terms of imprisonment for both convicts will run concurrently.
“For count five and seven, which the court has found the first convict guilty, the sentence of the court upon you is that you be hanged by the neck until you be dead, and may God have mercy on your soul,” he said.
The Lagos State Government had in the charges against the convicts told the court that the DSS received a distress call from an editor of Sun newspaper (name withheld) on September 14, 2015, about the kidnap of his wife at their residence.
It was said that the state command of the DSS consequently dispatched a nine-man team to carry out surveillance to ascertain the location of the kidnappers who were negotiating for a ransom.
The prosecution added that it was reported that in the evening of that day, one of the DSS team members, Mr. Martins Ajayi, sent a distress text message to the command headquarters to the effect that the team had been ambushed by vandals and their weapons seized.
According to the prosecution, the convicts committed the offences on September 14, 2015, in Ishawo Creek, Ikorodu, Lagos.