An Oyo High Court has discharged and acquitted the immediate past Chief Whip of Oyo House of Assembly, Olafisoye Akinmoyede, who represented Lagelu state constituency in the Eight Assembly over the murder of a federal lawmaker Mr. Temitope Olatoye Sugar.
Sugar, as he was fondly called, was killed on Saturday, March 9, 2019, during the Governorship and House of Assembly elections at Alape village, Lalupon area of the capital city where he had gone to cast his vote.
According to sources, Sugar ran into an ambush laid for him by his assailants after which he was severely shot with the bullet hitting his left eye, left upper jaw and forehead.
He was confirmed dead at the Intensive Care Unit of the University College Hospital (UCH) where he was rushed to for treatment after the attack.
Until his death, Sugar’ represented Lagelu/Akinyele federal constituency in the House of Representatives in the eighth assembly. He was the Chairman, House Committee on Urban Development and Regional Planning.
Olatoye was in the Oyo State House of Assembly from 2011 to 2015 and was also elected into the House of Representatives in 2015.
The police, after the incident had arrested Akinmoyede and three other persons as masterminds of the killing and took them to the court in a case with I/70c/2019.
But, Akinmoyede, fondly called Lafi alongside the other three suspects namely, Rafiu Adebayo, Rasheed Oladele, and Kazeem Ayinde were all set free on Thursday.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. M.A. Ojeah, who represented Oyo state Commissioner of Police, had leveled a two-count charge of conspiracy and murder of Olatoye against Akinmoyede and the three other persons.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges when it was read to them.
Delivering the judgment on Thursday, Justice Ademola Adegbola, discharged and acquitted the accused, saying the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt that Akinmoyede and three other persons were the ones that shot Olatoye with a firearm at Lalupon in Lagelu Local Government that eventually led to his death.
The court held that Prosecution Witness One (PW1) who was the star witness in the case, Mr Olajide Olatoye, a younger brother to the deceased when putting on oath, submitted that none of all the four accused was involved in the murder of his elder brother, but one Jelili Okanlomo, who is still at large, committed the crime.
The court said: “In my view, taking together the charges filed against the four defendants, the prosecution has not established any nexus to connect any of the four defendants to the offences with regard to the murder of Olatoye Temitope Sugar. I, therefore, hold that the prosecution has not proved any of the ingredients relating to the two charges against the four defendants.
“The prosecution failed totally to prove any of the ingredients of the two charges preferred against the accused persons. It will amount to turning on the defendants to prove their innocence, which is not a requirement of the Nigeria Criminal Justice System. In fact, doing so contravenes the constitutional rights of the four defendants, Section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
“For this reason, I will not consider the evidence by the four defendants, in its defence, as the prosecution has not established any of the ingredients of the two offences charged so as to warrant the court to ask any of the four defendants to enter upon its defence.
“In conclusion, taking together the case put before me by the prosecution together with the evidence led, I am of the opinion that the prosecution failed to establish the charges preferred against the defendants, and the defendants are discharged and acquitted.”
But the prosecuting counsel, Ojeah, left the court immediately after the judgment and journalists could not find him for an interview to know if the prosecution team would appeal the judgment or not.
But the defence counsel, Adeboye Adetayo, who stood in for Michael Lana, commended the judiciary for the judgment, saying “Justice has prevailed.”