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Joseph Omotosho, a former police corporal, is to die by hanging or chemical infusion for the murder of one Benson Obode, a car dealer. An Edo High Court presided over by Ohimai Ovbiagele handed down the sentence on February 12 after finding him guilty of all charges preferred against him.
Omotosho, Adeleke Adedeji, Oniyo Musa, Abena John and Henry Shobowale, all police corporals attached to the special anti-robbery squad (SARS), Lagos state command, were arraigned on an eight-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, murder and theft.
After an orderly room trial by the police force, the five officers were found liable and dismissed from service to face court trial.
The accused persons had, in May 2015, arrested Obodeh for allegedly stealing a Peugeot 306 vehicle.
Obodeh was taken to the Edo state criminal investigation department office, Benin, where he was tortured to make a confessional statement.
Due to extreme torture, Obodeh died in police custody on May 21, 2015.
Thereafter, his body was deposited at the morgue in Central Hospital, Benin, and tagged wrongly as ‘Benson Agu’.
The defendants then travelled to Port Harcourt, Rivers state, where they used the deceased’s ATM card to withdraw N350,000 from his account on May 22 and May 23, 2015.
During the trial, a total of 19 witnesses, including eyewitnesses to the torture, and a pathologist were called to testify.
Autopsy report tendered by the pathologist indicated that the deceased had a heart condition, while the extreme torture suffered by the victim compounded his situation and caused his heart to fail.
Delivering judgment on Friday, February 12, Ohimai Ovbiagele, the trial judge, found the accused persons guilty of all the offences.
However, Omotosho, who was the only defendant present in court, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for conspiracy; he was also sentenced to death by hanging or chemical infusion for murder.
In line with Section 352(5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Edo state, the judge suspended the sentencing of the other defendants, who were said to have absconded on October 19, 2020, during the #EndSARS crisis, which led to a jailbreak in Benin.
The judge said sentencing will be pronounced when the convicts are apprehended and brought before the court.