The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has sentenced a Lagos prince, Adewale Oyekan, and one Lateef Balogun to death.
The 50-year-old prince and his 27-year-old accomplice who is a former domestic staff were sentenced on Monday for killing one Sikirat Ekun, a 62-year-old businesswoman and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Adewale is the son of Oba Adeyinka Oyekan, the Oba of Lagos who passed away on March 1, 2003.
He hired Balogun for N6,000 to murder Ekun.
The convicts who have been in custody for seven-years murdered Ekun by strangling her and throwing her corpse into a 1,000-feet well located in her home.
While convicting and sentencing the defendants in a two-hour judgement, Justice Raliatu Adebiyi said that the prosecution had proved the charges of conspiracy to commit murder and murder beyond a reasonable doubt.
“The circumstantial evidence was strong and cogent; the act of the defendants in killing the deceased was intentional and premeditated,” she held.
The judge added, “The court finds that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt the offence of conspiracy and murder and are accordingly found guilty of the two-count charge.
“Section 221 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011 stipulates the punishment for the offence of murder as follows:
“Subject to the provisions of any other law, a person who commits the offence of murder shall be sentenced to death. Same is the punishment for conspiracy to commit murder as contained in Section 231 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.”
Justice Adebiyi noted that the provisions of the law she cited do not give the court any discretion whatsoever in sentencing the defendants.
“For this reason, the first and second defendants are hereby sentenced accordingly on each of count one and two to death by hanging. May God the giver of life have mercy on your soul,” she said
The leader of the prosecution team, Mr Akin George, explained that the convicts committed the offences at on October 17, 2012, at about 1am at the home of the deceased in the Omole Phase I of the state.
He stated that the deceased was a restauranteur who knew Oyekan due to her friendship with his late mother and employed him as the manager of her restaurant just to render assistance to the prince.
“Balogun the second defendant, was a former domestic staff of Ekun who was employed by her (Ekun) to take care of her elderly father. His employment was, however, terminated following a dispute with Ekun.
“The convicts conspired, killed the deceased, and threw her corpse in a well within the premises of her home and took over her businesses and properties, including her bus which was sold for N170,000,” George narrated.
He added, “When any enquiry was made by family and friends about her whereabouts, Oyekan informed them that she had travelled to Abuja for the Ileya festival. He passed this information by sending a text message from Ekun’s mobile phone.
“Following panic and worry from members of Ekun’s family and after an extensive search, her corpse was found two months later in December 2012 by well diggers and firefighters.”
“The convicts had placed a generator, a gas cylinder and other household items on the corpse to conceal it in the 1,000 feet well,” the lawyer said.
The trial at the State High Court began on April 14, 2015, and five witnesses including police officers, Ekun’s nephew, Iyiola Olaniyi, and her only child, Mrs Folashade Amurun, testified against the convicts.
On the other hand, Oyekan and Balogun testified in their defence.
Giving their testimonies, both convicts denied knowing each other, noting that they met for the first time at the police station.
They also denied committing the offence.
Oyekan, in his evidence, said that he met Ekun who was a friend of his mother at a PDP rally in 2011 after he had returned from the United States of America where he obtained a degree in architecture.
He said he met the deceased thereafter at her home where she offered to assist him by employing him to manage her restaurant.
Before the sentence was passed, the defence counsel, Mr O.C. Onwumerie, did not make an allocutus (plea for mercy) while the trial was ongoing.
“I will be leaving sentencing to the hands of the court,” Onwumerie said.