A trigger-happy Police chief, who shot and killed an unarmed citizen during the 2012 fuel subsidy protest in Lagos, has been jailed for 10 years.
The trial court held that although a charge of murder was proved against the convict, his lawyers successfully argued for mitigation to manslaughter.
The court, sitting in Igbosere, on Monday held that a former Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Mr. Segun Fabunmi, was irresponsible with the handling of firearms.
Fabuunmi shot one Ademola Ade (or Ademola Aderintola Daramola) during the fuel subsidy protest, resulting in the death of the victim.
Ade, a fashion designer, was shot around 9am on January 9, when the defendant led a patrol team comprising five junior officers to Yaya-Abatan and Abeokuta streets around Ogba area of Lagos.
Justice Olabisi Akinlade also found Fabunmi, a dismissed Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), guilty of shooting three other persons, Alimi Abubakar, Egbujor Samuel and Chizorba Odoh, during the protest, thereby causing them grievous bodily harm. She sentenced him to five years on this count, but both sentences are to run concurrently.
Fabunmi, of No. 12 Oyewole Street, Ogudu, Lagos, was arraigned on May 5, 2013 by the Lagos State government on a seven-count charge bordering on murder, attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm.
At the time of the incident, the defendant was the DPO of Pen Cinema Police Station, Agege and had led out his men to Yaya-Abatan area of Ogba following intelligence report that there was a disturbance in that area.
The court agreed with the defendant that there was indeed a mob at the scene of the incident, but concluded that he gave conflicting testimonies on whether or how an attempt was made to snatch his AK47 rifle and who fired the weapon.
The court also rejected the defence counsel’s argument that the shooting was the result of an accident when the defendant struggled with the mob to retain possession of his rifle.
Relying on the witness testimonies and all the evidence tendered, Justice Akinlade said: “The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the defendant recklessly shot his rifle and in the process the bullet hit the deceased. He definitely knew that shooting an AK47 can cause grievous bodily harm to anyone the bullet hit.
“The fact that he was on a lawful duty did not mean that he should have shot his gun sporadically.”
The judge held that the prosecutors, Lagos Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mrs. Idowu Alakija and Assistant Director Mrs. Abiola Adeyinka, satisfactorily proved the offence of murder but that the evidence provided by the defence team led by Mr. George Oguntade SAN, availed the defendant of the defence of provocation, resulting in the lesser charge of manslaughter.
She said: “The defence of provocation will avail the defendant. It is evident that there was no time for his passion to cool before the gun was fired.”