A Lagos Division of the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere on Tuesday discharged and acquitted a man, Jelili Dimeji, of a four-count armed robbery charge brought against him five years ago.
The Lagos State Government had accused Mr Dimeji of robbing some valuables from an apartment in Ikotun in 2015.
In her judgment during virtual proceedings, Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye held that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“The alleged confessional statement was never placed before the court as an exhibit. I must hold that the prosecution’s failure to place the confessional statement before the court is fatal to its case.
“The mere fact that the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) testified that the defendant confessed cannot be taken as the gospel truth without some other hard evidence before the court,” Mrs Ipaye said.
The judge said that there was no cogent identification evidence before the court as Desmond Usman, the alleged victim of the October 7, 2015 robbery, failed to come to court to testify and identify Mr Dimeji as one of the perpetuators of the crime.
She also noted that James Irom, a police sergeant, the IPO as well as the first prosecution witness, also failed to tender allegedly recovered weapons while testifying before the court.
“As an 18th Century English jurist stated, it is better that 10 guilty persons escape than one innocent suffers.
“Accordingly, I find and hold that the prosecution has failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant, Jelili Dimeji, was one of those who carried out the robbery which took place at about 3a.m. on Oct. 7, 2015, at No. 28, Dele Ara St., Ikotun, Lagos. I so hold.
“Having failed to establish the substantive charge of armed robbery against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt, I find and hold that the prosecution has also not sustained the ancillary charge of conspiracy.
“I, therefore, find you Jelili Dimeji not guilty of the charges as contained in counts one to four of the information dated March 3, 2017. You are hereby discharged and acquitted,” Mrs Ipaye held.
Following Mr Dimeji’s acquittal, defence counsel, Pamela Okoroigwe, thanked the court for the judgment.
Reacting to the judgment, the lead prosecution counsel, Akin George, said: “I salute the wonderful wisdom of my lord, we have been robbed of vital witnesses as a result of delay in investigations.
“My lord will note that this crime occurred in 2015, we did not start prosecuting in the high court until two years after, in 2017, and many of our vital witnesses were unavailable.”
NAN reports that Mr Dimeji was charged with conspiracy and armed robbery contrary to Sections 297 and 299 of the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2015.
He was alleged to have committed the offences alongside four others at large.
“The defendant and his accomplices at about 3am on Oct. 7, 2015, at No. 28, Dele Ara St., Ikotun, Lagos, while armed with dangerous weapons, robbed one Oladipo Adu of a cash sum of N300,000 and jewellery.
“They also robbed one Desmond Usman of his laptop and mobile phones,” the prosecution said.
During the trial, two witnesses – the IPO and Chidiogo Michael, the landlord of the property where the alleged theft occurred – testified for the prosecution while the defendant and his father testified for the defence.
Mr Dimeji while testifying on February 26, 2019, said that he was on his way to a motor park to head to Ifo in Ogun to see his wife, who had just been delivered of a baby, when he was accosted by a vigilante group who claimed he was a member of a gang of robbers which robbed a nearby residential premises.
According to him, he did not partake in the armed robbery but was arrested, taken into custody and was remanded at the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999