After spending four years in prison while facing an armed robbery trial, an accused, Mr Tega Okokushe, has been discharged and acquitted by a Lagos High Court in Ikeja, for failure of police to identify the real culprit.
The defendant was arrested by men of the Nigeria Police in Ojo, Lagos, who accused him of having robbed one Chika Obi at his residence in Iba, Lagos, dispossessing him of his laptop, phone and charger.
But in her judgment after four years, Justice Lateefat Okunnu said:
“The information in proof of the evidence shows that there was armed robbery. What is to be focused and proved is whether the defendants before the court were among the gang that carried out the robbery. The issue to also consider is whether there is an identification linked to the defendants.”
According to Justice Okunnu, the victim of the robbery (Obi) never identified the defendants as part of the robbery gang and he never appeared before the court, which makes his statement to the police not to suffice.
“Where the robber was not arrested at the scene of the crime, the prosecution should prove the identification of the defendants. I cannot accept the police officer’s mere say, given by Mr. Obi.
The 1st defendant has said he has never met Mr. Obi before. He said the statement was not written by him, that the police only asked of his name, address, occupation and religion. The defendants are educated.
“The prosecution has not proved that the police caught the real culprit. Failure of Mr. Obi to appear before the court to testify damaged the prosecution. The defendants are hereby acquitted and discharged,” Justice Okunnu ruled.
Some policemen act like they are raw “unprofessionals” and this is one of such instances. Four years wasted!