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NIGERIA: Court Sentences Slain Banker’s Husband to Death

 Symbol of justiceAkolade Arowolo, the 32 year old husband of the Late Lagos Banker, Titilayo Omozoje Arowolo who has been on trial for the murder of his wife was yesterday found guilty and sentenced to death by a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.
The judgment which was delivered by Justice Lateefat Okunnu found the defendant guilty of the one-count charge of murder caused by multiple-stab wounds inflicted on the wife after a scuffle at their Isolo (Lagos) residence on June 24, 2011.
The court held in the judgment that the defendant was the only witness present at the time of the crime and reached “an eligible and indispensable conclusion using the doctrine of last seen to hold him culpable in the crime.”
Relying on the testimony deposed to the court by the forensic pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, who led the medical team that conducted the post-mortem examination of the remains of the deceased at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), the court held that the injuries that caused the death of Arowolo’s wife were not self-inflicted as against the defendant’s claim.
According to the autopsy report submitted to the court, 76 stab wounds were identified on various parts of the victim’s body.
The affected body parts included the deceased’s face, abdomen, liver, diaphragm, heart and there was a deep cut that pierced through the chest to the back with a sharp object which was later matched to the knife found at the crime scene.
The defendant denied the pathologist’s claim in his testimony that the injuries had been inflicted with tremendous force by insisting that his wife, whom he admitted was smaller in physical appearance than he was, overpowered him on the fateful day.
Justice Okunnu pointed out in the judgment that lasted for two and half hours that the defendant’s oral and written statements were “disjointed’ and contradictory”. The court however said his written statement at the police station were “fluid, a narrative that flowed naturally from his head”.
In the written statement, the defendant denied attacking his late wife with a knife but insisted that the deceased stabbed him and stabbed herself, while he jumped through the window to the verandah to get help.
His defense was countered by the prosecution witnesses. One of the deceased’s sisters, Folake Oyakhire who was Arowolo’s birthday mate had told the court in her testimony that she called her sister at the estimated time of crime.
Unable to reach her, Folake called her sister’s husband to congratulate him on his birthday and he informed her that he and his wife had some issues but that they had resolved it. He promised to call back in two minutes and his line was unreachable shortly after that.
The court discountenanced the oral statements deposed to the court by Arowolo’s parents, Mr Mudasiru Arowolo and Mrs. Bolanle Arowolo who were also witnesses in the matter. The court described their testimonies as “biased” and that both witnesses were “evasive” during cross-examination by the prosecution.
Although both witnesses admitted that the marriage between their son and the deceased was stormy, the court disregarded their testimonies having insisted that their son was incapable of such crime; adding that it was the late wife who had been threatening to kill the husband and her.
Instead, the court upheld the testimony of the forensic pathologist expert who has experience in anatomy that spanned 30years.
Altogether, the trial had 14 prosecuting witnesses and 6 defense witnesses.  Some of the prosecuting witnesses include the father of the deceased, Mr. George Oyakhire, the deceased’s sisters, neighbours, security man, investigating police officers and the pathologist.
All the witnesses who were at the crime scene before the body of the former Skye Bank staff was recovered by the police recounted similar episodes of the “gory sight event”. They testified that the victim had multiple stabs, laid in blood-soaked bed, eyes gorged out with one dangling from the socket.
The prosecution through the witnesses established that the deceased was a victim of serial acts of domestic violence which culminated in the victim’s death that fatal Friday.
The court upheld this claim in the judgment by finding its parallel in the defendant’s statement to the court. In the statement, the defendant testified that his wife had moved out of their matrimonial home more than 10 times in their three years of marriage.
The defendant’s counsel, Mr. Olanrewaju Ajanaku, whose countenance fell after the judgment, told pressmen that he would examine the possibilities of appeal.
“We will obtain the judgment from the court today and look at same. I am of the opinion that there are certain germane points that were not addressed. We feel seriously that those points are very important for our matter. If, as I have observed, those points are met in the judgment, we will take the necessary steps. He still has the right of appeal,” he said.

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