Lagos High Court, Igbosere, on Tuesday discharged and acquitted a man, Jelili Dimeji of an armed robbery charge brought against him by the state government.
The government had accused Dimeji of robbing residents of an apartment in the Ikotun area of the state of some valuables in 2015.
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, who delivered the judgement during virtual proceedings, held that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
She said: “The alleged confessional statement was never placed before the court as an exhibit. I must hold that the prosecution’s failure to place the confessional statement before the court is fatal to its case.
“The mere fact that the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) testified that the defendant confessed cannot be taken as the gospel truth without some other hard evidence before the court.”
The judge said that there was no cogent identification evidence before the court as Mr. Desmond Usman, the alleged victim of the October 7, 2015 robbery, failed to come to court to testify and identify Dimeji as one of the perpetrators of the crime.
She also noted that the IPO, Sgt. James Irom and the first prosecution witness also failed to tender allegedly recovered weapons while testifying before the court.
The judge added: “As an 18th Century English jurist stated, it is better than 10 guilty persons escape than one innocent suffers.
“Accordingly, I find and hold that the prosecution has failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant, Jelili Dimeji, was one of those who carried out the robbery which took place at about 3:00 a.m. on October 7, 2015, at No. 28, Dele Ara Street, Ikotun, Lagos. I so hold.
“Having failed to establish the substantive charge of armed robbery against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt, I find and hold that the prosecution has also not sustained the ancillary charge of conspiracy.
“I, therefore, find you Jelili Dimeji not guilty of the charges as contained in counts one to four of the information dated March 3, 2017. You are hereby discharged and acquitted.”
Following Dimeji’s acquittal, the defence counsel, Ms. Pamela Okoroigwe, thanked the court for the judgment.
Reacting to the judgment, the lead prosecution counsel, Mr. Akin George, said: “I salute the wonderful wisdom of my lord, we have been robbed of vital witnesses as a result of the delay in investigations.”
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