Trigger happy cop to die by hanging, court rules

A police officer who shot a three-year-old to death is to de by hanging, a Lagos High Court Judge, Olabisi Akinlade, ruled on Thursday.

The culprit, Ikechukwu Nwabueze, shot at the car conveying little Kausarat Muritala and her parents, three years ago. The bullet pierced the rear of the vehicle hitting the kid in the head.

Miss Muritala died before medical help arrived.

The incident, which happened at a police checkpoint at Alapere, Ketu, three years ago, led to the dismissal of the police officer after police investigations.

Ms. Akinlade said the punishment would serve as a deterrent to other police officers who cut short the lives of innocent citizens.

“The bullet penetrated through the back of the car. He aimed at the occupants of the vehicle,” the judge said.

“He cannot claim that he was not aware of the consequence of his action…

“He had the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily injuries when he fired at the back of the car,” the judge added.

While giving testimony during his trial, Mr. Nwabueze, 35, who joined the Nigeria Police 12 years ago, told the court that he fired his gun after the occupants refused to stop at the police checkpoint.

He, however, maintained that he, along with his colleagues, shot into the air and not at the car.

The defence counsel, Yemi Omodele, pleaded with the court to acquit Mr. Nwabueze since there were doubts over whose bullet killed the deceased.

The presiding judge, however, picked holes in Mr. Nwabueze’s testimony saying that it was filled with inconsistencies, contradictions, and after-thoughts.

“He admitted in his confessional statement that he aimed his gun at the tyre of the vehicle but that he did not know that the bullet will kill the deceased,” the judge said.

Earlier in the trial, the deceased father narrated how he rushed back to the checkpoint, clutching the bloodied body of his daughter and how the police officers took to their heels.

Leaving the body under the care of his friend, he sprinted after the officers and caught one of them.

The other officers fired numerous shots into the air, apparently, to scare him away but he was unperturbed, according to Mr. Muritala, who insisted that the police officers did not stop his car.

Seeing that they had been unable to frighten him, the officers opted for a settlement.

The judge noted that the only statutory punishment for murder is the death penalty.

“Accordingly, the sentence of the court upon you is that you be hanged by neck until you be dead and may the Lord have mercy on your soul,” the judge ruled.

Mr. Nwabueze can either accept the judgement or appeal at the Court of Appeal. Several cops in Nigeria have been accused of fatally shooting innocent victims. The latest of such incident happened on Wednesday evening, when a cop in Kaduna shot dead a commercial motorcyclist The Kaduna police confirmed the incident and have already promised a probe.


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