A driver, Olalekan Hameed, was on Monday sentenced to death by hanging by an Ikeja High Court for the murder of a 76-year-old, Mrs. Jolasun Okunsanya, the mother of his employer, Adetayo.
Olalekan was convicted in the first virtual court sitting held by the court as part of social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus disease.
The proceedings were approved by the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, in line with the Lagos State Judiciary Remote Hearing of Cases COVID-19 Pandemic Period Practice Direction.
The judgement was delivered by Justice Mojisola Dada after finding the convict guilty of the offence of stealing and murder, preferred against him by Lagos State government.
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He was arraigned on two counts of stealing the sums of $117 and N950,000 from his employer’s room on December 1, 2018, and strangling the deceased after she caught him in the act.
The court session for the charge marked ID/9006C/2019, held online via a video app, Zoom began at 11 am and ended before 2 pm.
The judge, defendant, his team of counsel, the prosecution team led by Lagos State Solicitor-General, Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey, and all witnesses participated in the session remotely from different locations via the Zoom app.
The court heard that he committed the offence at about 12:30 pm at Plot 83, Owukori Crescent, Alaka Estate, Surulere, Lagos.
The convict pleaded not guilty, following which trial commenced.
The prosecution called several witnesses and tendered exhibits, including the coroner’s report, stolen N97,500 and $117 recovered from the defendant and a confessional statement, among others.
Hakeem told the judge during the trial that he only stole N1,000 and had nothing to do with the victim’s death.
“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.”
Justice Dada, however, noted that prosecution witnesses testimonies that Hakeem was the only one with the deceased at the time of death and was also seen scaling the fence of the deceased’s building afterward.
She 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.