An Ikeja High Court on Tuesday acquitted a middle-aged commercial bus driver, Michael Oguntoye, of stabbing a conductor to death with a broken bottle during a fight.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that acquitting Mr Oguntoye during the virtual proceeding, Justice Raliatu Adebiyi said the prosecution did not prove the charge of murder brought against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Adebiyi said the witnesses to the alleged murder did not testify in court as prosecution witnesses and that medical evidence was not presented in court by the prosecution.
She also noted that the defendant also gave two contradictory statements to the police, which were not corroborated in the courtroom.
The judge said: “The court finds that the prosecution failed to prove the burden of proof discharged on it to prove beyond reasonable doubt the charge of murder placed on the defendant.
“The offence of murder is a most heinous offence which carries the maximum punishment of death.
“Before an accused person is convicted of it, the prosecution must prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt by compelling evidence.
“This was not done in this case. For this reason, the defendant Michael Oguntoye is found not guilty of the one-count charge of murder against him contrary to Section 211 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.
“The defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted, I so hold.”
Following the judgment, the defence counsel, Korede Adenuga thanked the court for the verdict.
According to the prosecution led by O. R Ahmed-Muili, Mr Oguntoye committed the offence at 8.30 a.m. on Dec. 8, 2011, at Bolade Park by Railway Line, Mosafejo area of Oshodi, Lagos.
“The defendant murdered one Saheed (surname not provided) who is a bus conductor by stabbing him with a broken bottle in the neck during a brawl at the motor park,” the prosecutor said.
The trial commenced at the High Court on January 11, 2016.
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The prosecution presented two policewomen as prosecution witnesses while Mr Oguntoye testified solely in his defence.
Mr Oguntoye in his evidence denied killing the deceased.
He claimed that on the day of the incident, he had been stripped naked, mobbed by a large crowd and that some unspecified persons had falsely accused him of the crime.