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Court acquits suspected killers of Funsho Williams

By The Citizen

A Lagos High Court, Igbosere, presided by Justice Ebenezer Adebajo, Monday discharged and acquitted six suspected killers of a former Lagos State People's Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, Funsho Williams.

In his ruling on a no-case submission filed by the defence, Justice Adebajo held that the prosecution has failed to establish a prima facie case against any of the accused persons.

The court held that the evidence presented by the prosecution was so weak and unreliable and cannot sustain the charge of conspiracy or murder.

'There was nothing, absolutely nothing to suggest that the death of the deceased was as a result of the act of any of the defendants.

'I agree with the defendants' counsel that the evidence given in respect of the offence of conspiracy to commit murder is weak and unreliable because they are superficial, and they amount to speculation when given consideration.

'There is nothing cogent and compelling to show that the defendants acted in furtherance of a crime. In the circumstance of the present case where the evidence is so superficial that they at best present mere speculation, it can neither be safe nor reasonable to infer conspiracy', the court held.

The court added that the ingredients of murder that the prosecution needed to proof are that: the deceased died, that the death was caused by the accused and that the accused persons intended to kill the deceased or caused him grievous bodily harm.

Justice Adebajo added that these ingredients being mutually inclusive must co-exist in order for the prosecution to be successful.

The court held that the evidence of the pathologist established the cause of the death but the prosecution refused to make any effort to tie the cause of the death of Funsho Williams to the action of any individual or the defendants.

Besides, the court stated that the pathologist who said the deceased died of strangulation did not allude to any of the defendants as having carried out the act, saying that he (pathologist) was never asked.

'It is noteworthy to state that the Chief Medical Pathologist of Lagos State in his evidence stated that the deceased was killed by strangulation and that the dagger and the rope found at the scene of the incident were distractions. I am satisfied that the deceased has been shown to have died but it remains at large after the conclusion of the prosecution's case, the person or persons who caused his death.

'In the final analysis, I am satisfied that the prosecution has failed to show a nexus between the defendants and the offence they were charged. I am of the opinion that the evidence presented by the prosecution is so manifestly unreliable that this court cannot call on the defendants to make their defence. Consequently, the defendants are discharged and acquitted, and the charge dismissed', the court held.

The prosecution had on May 16 closed its case during the trial and the court adjourned the matter for the defendants to open their defence.

But the defence counsel, Mr. Agbara Okezie, made a 'no case submission' before the court, contending that the accused had no case to answer.

In his application dated May 20, 2014, Okezie argued that from the totality of the prosecution's case, it has failed to establish a prima facie case against any of the defendants.

He submitted that the evidence of the prosecution were at best circumstantial in nature, which the court cannot rely upon.

In her response, Director, Directorate of Public Prosecution, Lagos Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Idowu Alakija, urged the court to dismiss the no-case submission made by the defendants.

She argued that the prosecution has sufficiently established a prima facie case against the defendants that warrants their explanations.

The defendants, Bulama Kolo, Musa Maina, David Cassidy, Tunani Sonani, Mustapha Kayode and Okponwasa Imariabie, all male, were first arraigned on March 1, 2013 before Justice Adebajo on a two-count charge of conspiracy and murder.

The defendants, according to the charge, on or about July 27, 2006, at 34A, Corporation Drive, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, conspired to murder Williams.