New Telegraph

Supreme Court affirms death sentence for man over kidnap, murder of infant

The Supreme Court has affirmed the sentencing of a man, Theophilus Friday, to death by hanging for his involvement in the kidnap, murder and mutilation of a year and half old girl, Rachael Akingboye. The apex court, in a judgement delivered by a five-member panel, was unanimous in dismissing the appeal filed by the convict.

Justice Tijjani Abubakar, in the lead judgement on the appeal marked, SC/CR/1462/2022, held that the appeal was without merit. Justice Abubakar affirmed the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the March 20, 2014 decision of the High Court of Ondo State, convicting and sentencing Friday and two others – Olusegun Obaro and Jonah Lase to death by hanging. According to the prosecution, Obaro and Lase kidnapped the victim while she was sleeping beside her mother on the night of June 17, 2011, in their home at Ikorigho in Igbokoda, Ilaje local government area of Ondo state. Obaro and Lase later handed the kidnapped child to Friday, who was said to have sent them. Upon discovering that her child was missing, the mother raised the alarm. After a search was conducted, the victim’s mutilated corpse was later found dumped within the vicinity of her mother’s house. It was discovered that her right ear, right eye, right breast and right part of her scalp were removed. Obaro, Lase and Friday were subsequently apprehended by residents of the community, who handed them over to police personnel at the Igbokoda police station. After the police investigation, the three were arraigned before the High Court of Ondo State in Akure on a two-count charge of kidnapping and murder. They were charged under Section 3 of the Ondo State Anti-Kidnapping and Abduction Law 2010 for the offence of kidnapping and murder, under Section 316 and punishable under Section 319 of the Criminal Code Laws of Ondo State.

They pleaded not guilty during their arraignment, following which a trial was conducted. In his judgement on March 20, 2014, Justice Olusegun Odusola of the High Court of Ondo State held that the totality of the evidence before the court showed that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. Justice Odusola further held that the prosecution established that the three defendants were responsible for the death of the deceased. The judge subsequently found the trio guilty and convicted them. He convicted Obaro and Lase on the offences of kidnapping and murder, while Friday was convicted solely on the offence of murder. The judge held: “The offences for which the accused were charged are strict liability offences. Death penalty would be the punishment for each of the counts. “Having found the 1st and 2nd accused guilty of both counts, the 3rd accused is guilty of murder. “In sum, I hereby sentence you Olusegun Obaro, Jonah Lase and Theophilus Friday to death by hanging”.

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