Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja High Court has sentenced a driver, Olalekan Hameed, to death by hanging in the first virtual court sitting held by a Lagos court as part of social distancing measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice Dada sentenced Hameed to death by hanging for the December 1, 2018 murder of 76-year-old Jolasun Okunsanya, the mother of his employer, Adetayo.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the court session was held online via the Zoom App.
Hameed participated from the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, Lagos, while his counsel and the prosecution team, led by Lagos State Solicitor-General, Titilayo Shitta-Bey, participated in the session remotely from different locations.
Judicial Officers including Justice Alogba, Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, Justice Josephine Oyefeso, Justice Sherifat Solebo, Justice Afeez Dabiri, Justice Roli Harriman also observed the proceedings virtually.
The state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), and some senior members of the bar, including Funke Adekoya (SAN), Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) and Olukayode Enitan (SAN), also observed the proceedings.
The proceedings were approved by the Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba, in line with the Lagos State Judiciary Remote Hearing of Cases COVID-19 Pandemic Period Practice Direction.
Delivering thee judgment, Justice Dada said: “It is also an established fact that although the defendant went to the house of the crime to steal, the surprise of the deceased stumbling upon him led him to not just pushing the deceased, but actually strangulating her in a bid to keep her from crying out.
“The case is clear.
“I have not found any contradiction with the evidence of the prosecution witness that can be deemed material or weighty enough to cast any doubt on the case of the prosecution against the defendant in this case.
“The facts of the case are incompatible with the innocence of the defendant but rather his guilt on the two-counts.
“The defendant is hereby found guilty of this count two of murder and is hereby convicted as charged and accordingly sentenced to death.
“The sentence of this court upon you, Olalekan Hameed, is that you be hanged by the neck until you be pronounced dead and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul.
“This is the virtual judgment of the court.”
NAN reports that Hameed was arraigned on March 6, 2019 on a two-count charge of murder and stealing in a suit with charge no. ID/9006C/2019.
According to the prosecution, the convict committed the offence at about 12:30pm at Plot 83, Owukori Crescent, Alaka Estate, Surulere, Lagos.
Hameed pleaded not guilty and trial commenced, with witnesses testifying on behalf of the prosecution.
Exhibits were tendered during the trial, including the coroner’s report, the allegedly stolen N97,500 and $117 recovered from the defendant as well as his confessional statement.
Hameed, testifying in his defence during the trial, denied killing the deceased.
He said: “The only money I took was the N1,000.
“Any other money I don’t know about it.
“I did not kill Mrs Jolaso Ogunsanya.”