Mr. Arowolo was sentenced to death on Friday.
Justice Lateefat Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court on Friday, February 21, sentenced Akolade Arowolo to death over the murder of his wife, Titilayo.
Mr. Arowolo was charged to court for allegedly stabbing his wife, a banker, to death on June 24, 2011 at their residence at No. 8, Akindeinde St., Isolo, Lagos.
Below is a timeline of court proceedings during the trial of the 32-year-old convict.
July 7, 2011: Akolade Arowolo is arraigned before a Yaba Magistrates’ Court for the alleged murder of his wife, Titilayo, on June 24, 2011. His plea is not taken and the case is adjourned pending the advice of the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions, DPP.
December 21, 2011: The case is transferred to the Ikeja High Court and the accused is arraigned before Justice Lateefat Okunnu. He pleads not guilty to the one-count charge of murder preferred against him. The court remands him at Ikoyi Prison, Lagos. The case is adjourned till January 17, 2013 for trial.
January17, 2012: Mr. Arowolo is brought to court but the trial is stalled due to the absence of the prosecution’s first witness, George Oyakhire. The Director of Public Prosecution, Olabisi Ogungbesan, says that Mr. Oyakhire, who is the father of the deceased, is not available. She tells the court that the witness is in Kano and could not arrive in Lagos on time due to the nationwide protest against the removal of petroleum subsidy. The matter is adjourned till February 7, 2012.
February 7, 2012: The trial begins with the deceased father and sister testifying against Mr. Arowolo. Mr. Oyakhire and his daughter, Ijeh, testify that the Arowolos’ marriage was characterised by violence and abuse. The couple’s co-tenant, Adewale Adeyemi, also testifies that he heard a loud noise when he was in his apartment. He claims he saw Mr. Arowolo rushing out with a deep cut in his palms after the incident. The court adjourns the trial till February 20, 2012.
February 20, 2012: The prosecution tenders evidence relating to the murder; it is admitted into the court as exhibits. They include a kitchen knife, which was allegedly used in the murder of the deceased, four mobile phones and 29 crime-scene photographs taken by the police. The prosecution calls two more witnesses to give evidence in the matter. The fourth witness, Saidu Husseni, a security man at the residence of the Arowolos, admits that he was at the house on the day of the incident. Speaking in Hausa language, Mr. Husseni alleges that he saw Mr. Arowolo washing blood from his hands, while the suspect urged him to hurriedly open the gate. The fifth witness, Titus Ogbonna, from the Homicide Section, State CID, Yaba, Lagos tells the court how a N100 note, stained with blood, was recovered from Mr. Arowolo’s vehicle. The court adjourns till March 20, 2012
March 20, 2012: Mr. Ogbonna continues his testimony. He claims that investigations by the police led to a convincing conclusion that Titilayo was murdered by her husband. Titilayo’s step-mother, Adetoun Oyakhire, also testifies alleging that the deceased was planning to divorce her husband before she was killed. Mrs. Oyakhire says Mr. Arowolo has a violent history with the deceased. The court also admits as exhibits, a blood soaked pair of jeans short, a blood soaked bed sheet and pillow case, hammer, kitchen knife, frying spoon and a spatula. The blood-soaked N100 note allegedly recovered from the floor of Mr. Arowolo’s Honda Accord car, after his arrest by the police is also admitted. The court adjourns till March 27, 2012.
March 27, 2012: The deceased stepmother, Mrs. Oyakhire, is cross-examined by Mr. Arowolo’s counsel, Olarenwaju Ajanaku. Mrs. Oyakhire insists that she had a very cordial relationship with the deceased and had counselled her to be a good wife and to always put her marital problems before God. Another prosecution witness, Solomon Ailoyen, tells the court how they found Mr. Arowolo’s car at Aswani, Lagos on the day of the incident. The court adjourns till April 24, 2012.
April 24, 2012: The trial is stalled due to the absence of the prosecution witnesses. The DPP apologises to the court for their absence. The trial is adjourned till April 25, 2012.
April 25, 2012: Another of the deceased sister, Folake Oyahire, tells the court how she discovered the lifeless body of her sister after the murder. The couple’s landlord, Julius Akinloye, also testifies that another tenant told him that he saw Mr. Arowolo jumping from the balcony of his apartment on the day of the incident. The court adjourns trial till May 2, 2012.
May 2, 2012: The 10th prosecution witness, Gift Nyeche, a police forensic photographer with the State CID, Panti, Yaba is called to testify. Mr. Nyeche tells the court how he took some photographs of Mr. Arowolo’s car at the crime scene during the investigation on June 28, 2011. Attempts to tender the photographs as exhibits is rejected by the court as they are not accompanied with negatives in line with Section 86(4) of the Evidence Act, 2011. The matter is adjourned till June 7, 2012.
June 7, 2012: The court finally admits the crime scene photographs as exhibits following the attachment of the negatives. The matter is adjourned till June 26, 2012.
June 27, 2012: The accused, Mr. Arowolo, slumps in the dock during trial. He is revived by prison officials and immediately taken outside the court room to take his drugs. Two police officers, Benson Ajie, an inspector, and Cletus Bayem, a sergeant, have earlier testified against the defendant during the proceedings. Mr. Ajie, who is of the Homicide Department, State CID, Panti, Yaba, and Mr. Bayem, an officer attached to the Aswani Police Station, both claim that the confessional statements made by Mr. Arowolo were obtained voluntarily. The judge adjourns the matter till June 28, 2012 following the defendant’s illness.
June 28, 2012: Mr. Arowolo arrives at the court room at about 8:45 a.m. with the assistance of a male prison official, and sits in the gallery with his head resting on a chair. His lawyer, Olarenwaju Ajanaku, tells the court that he is critically ill and cannot withstand the rigours of trial. The court adjourns the matter till September 24, 2012.
September 24, 2012: The trial judge, Mrs. Okunnu, threatens to issue a warrant of arrest against one of the prosecution witness, Mr. Bayem, who failed to appear in court. The court adjourns further hearing till September 28, 2012
September 28, 2012: Mr. Bayem appears in court to conclude his testimony. The prosecution also calls a commercial photographer, Julius Okolawon, to give his evidence. He tells the court that he took seven photographs of Mr. Arowolo at the Aswani Police Station. The photographs are admitted by the court as exhibits. The matter is adjourned till October 15, 2012.
October 15, 2012: A consultant pathologist, John Obafunwa, tells the court that Titilayo’s body was inflicted with 76 stab wounds. Mr. Obafunwa, the Chief Medical Examiner of Lagos State, says he conducted both external and internal examination of the body of the deceased during the autopsy. According to him, the final result of the autopsy revealed that the death was caused by multiple injuries in the chest and abdomen due to multiple sharp wounds and long force trauma. The court adjourns the trial till October 22, 2012.
October 22, 2012: The trial is stalled following the absence of a representative of MTN Nigeria Ltd., which was subpoenaed, to give evidence in the case. The matter is adjourned till November 19, 2012.
November 19, 2012: Kingsley Ehebha, a staff of MTN appears before the court to testify. Mr. Ehebha, a fraud analyst at the company, produces Mr. Arowolo’s call records between June 1 and July 26, 2011. The call logs are admitted by the court as exhibits. The DPP announces closure of their case against the accused. The matter is adjourned till November 29, 2012.
November 29, 2012: The accused father, Mudasiru Arowolo, opens testimony for the defence, claiming that his son did not murder Titilayo as being alleged. He blames the trouble which rocked the Mr. Arowolo’s marriage on undue interference by Titilayo’s father and step-mother. According to him, the deceased had once threatened to kill her husband and herself during a quarrel, which happened when they visited him. The matter was adjourned till December 4, 2012.
December 4, 2012: The trial is stalled due to the absence of the accused mother, Bolanle Arowolo. The defence counsel, Mr. Ajanaku, says she is ill and apologises for her absence. The matter is adjourned till January 22, 2013.
January 22, 2013: The mother of the accused, Bolanle, testifies on behalf of her son who she describes as God-fearing. She says her late daughter-in-law was rude and troublesome, earning her the nickname, Margaret Thatcher. The witness also insists that her son is innocent of the crime. The court adjourns till January 29, 2013.
January 29, 2013: A defence witness, Efe Omordia, called to testify on behalf of Mr. Arowolo, describes him as a role model. The witness says she works with Joy Bringers International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), involved in the counselling and rehabilitation of inmates. According to her, the accused had shown exemplary leadership qualities in the prison environment and is a member of the prison’s recreation, reformation and rehabilitation club in Ikoyi Prison. Two other witnesses, Eucharia Enofe and Taiwo Oyetola, also testify on behalf of the defence. The matter is adjourned till March 28, 2013.
March 28, 2013: Mr. Arowolo enters the witness box and begins the narration of his own side of the story. He tells the court that he got married to Titilayo on August 8, 2008 and the family was blessed with a baby girl few months after the marriage. According to him, ego and immaturity caused several problems between him and his wife and deprived them of marital bliss. The court adjourns the trial till May 22, 2013.
May 22, 2013: The accused continues his testimony, telling the court that he did not murder Titilayo. Mr. Arowolo says his in-laws were responsible for the trouble in his marriage to their daughter. He claims Titilayo died after accidentally falling on a knife she was using to stab him during a quarrel on the day of the incident which was his birthday. The matter is adjourned till September 17, 2013 for adoption of final written addresses.
September 17, 2013: The judge adjourns the adoption of the written addresses till October 2, 2013. She directed the prosecution and defence to file and serve the processes before the next adjournment date.
October 2, 2013: The judge imposes a N10, 000 fine on Mr. Arowolo’s counsel, Mr. Ajanaku, for wasting the time of the court. Mrs. Okunnu says Mr. Ajanaku’s failure to file and regularise the defence processes is a setback to the speedy conclusion of the case. She adjourns the matter till October 31, 2013.
October 31, 2013: Mrs. Okunnu grants Mr. Arowolo’s counsel, Mr. Ajanaku, an extension of time to file his written address. She adjourns the matter till December 4, 2013.
December 4, 2013: Both the prosecution and defence adopts their final written addresses.
December 19, 2013: Parties re-adopt their written addresses. The prosecution counsel, Ms. Ogungbesan, asks the court to convict Mr. Arowolo of the charge. She argues that the prosecution has proved its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. However, Mr. Ajanaku disagrees with the prosecution asking the court to discharge and acquit Mr. Arowolo. The judge, Mrs. Okunnu tells both parties that date of judgment will be communicated to them.
February 21, 2014: The judge finds Mr. Arowolo guilty of murder and sentences him to death.