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OAU Student’s Death: Victim’s Family Petitions IGP, Wants Adedoyin, Others tried In Osun

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—Says Justice Won’t Be Served If Suspects Are Tried In Abuja

The family of Timothy Adegoke, a student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, who was allegedly killed at the Hilton Hotel on November 6, 2021, has petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, over plans by the Police in Abuja to press charges against the hotel owner, Rahmon Adedoyin and six others at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The deceased family, through its counsels, urged Baba to ensure that the murder case is prosecuted at the High Court of Osun State, which has the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

According to the petition titled: “Prosecution of the Suspects in the Murder Case of Timothy Oluwadamilare Adegoke: The Matter Arising,” and addressed to the IGP, the victim’s family argued that justice may not be served if Adedoyin and others are tried in Abuja.

The petition, signed by one of the family’s lawyers, Naim Adekilekun, commended the gallantry, investigative acumen and non-compromising nature of officers at the Intelligence Response Team, disclosed that prosecuting the matter in Abuja would expose it to been technically knocked-out or technically defeated by the defence.

Adekilekun cited some judicial authorities to support his argument adding that since the alleged murder occurred in Ile-Ife, the High Court of Osun State is the court with the requisite jurisdiction to try the case.

“As we are preparing for the prosecution of the suspects arrested in connection to this murder, we wish to state that it has filtered to us that the Police in Abuja is ready to proffer a charge against the suspects in respect of this case at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“It must be stated here that the family never doubted the competence of the Police to prosecute this case to a logical conclusion. But as the Solicitors to the family, we have our reservation to the prosecution of this case at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.

“To start with, in criminal prosecution, the Court in the territorial jurisdiction of the area of the alleged crime will be seised of the case and nothing more, although this may not be the case of some Federal offences triable at the Federal High Court of any judicial Division and the reason for, is not far-fetched this can be traced to the fact that the Law recognizes Federal High Court of Nigeria to be one and single court irrespective of the Division.

“This explains the reason why a case instituted in Federal High Court A may be transferred to Federal High Court B if there is a need for that. This is not the case with respect to the High Court of different States. A High Court of Osun State for example cannot transfer a case to the High Court of Oyo State for adjudication. A High Court of a State will be one in division with respect to other High Court in the same State and not a High Court of the other state.

“As it stands now, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act is the law that guides the prosecution of crimes at the Federal High Court in Nigeria and other offences punishable in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. This law provides the framework for criminal litigation in those Courts where it is applicable.

Section 93 of the Act which deals with place of trial or inquiry is apt as to the venue of criminal trial in our courts in Nigeria.

This Section 93 (1) and (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 are specific on the jurisdiction in criminal trial and for clarity, the section provides;

93 (1) An offence shall ordinarily be inquired into and tried by a court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction: The offence was wholly or in part committed, or some act forming part of the offence was done;

The consequence of the offence has ensured;

An offence was committed by reference to which the offence is denied; or a person against whom, or property in respect of which, the offence was committed is found, having been transported there by the suspect or by a person knowing of the offence.

“A criminal charge shall be filled and tried in the division where the alleged offence was committed unless it can be shown that it is convenient to do otherwise for security reasons. However, the sub-section 2 which seems to provide a proviso to the Section 93 (1) does not operate in the circumstance of Timothy’s Case, because there is no security reasons for not charging these suspects at the High Court of Justice Osun State, it is not necessary that they should be charged at Ile-Ife, Osun State where the alleged murder was committed, they can be charged in the Osogbo, the state Capital.

The provision of the law as stated above had be given judicial interpretation by our various courts for instance, in the case of DARIYE V. THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (2015) LPELR-24398, the Supreme Court per NWEZE, JSC P.48, paragraphs A to E

“On the questions of territorial jurisdiction of the trial court and whether the said trial court could hear and determine the charges against the appellant, it suffices to reiterate the views of this court in Nyame V FRN (2010) ALL FWLR (Pt. 527) 618, where Adekeye JSC laid down a very illuminating guide on how to resolve the issue of venue of trial of an accused person. According to the legal Amazon; Whenever the issue of the venue of the trial of an accused person comes up for determination, the most appropriate way of resolving the issue is to identify the offences charged and the elements of same as contained in the proof of evidence with a view to determining whether any of the acts constituting the offence occurred in the particular place where then accused is being tried”

“Same position was maintained in the case of ADEBAYO V. THE STATE (2012) LPELR-9464 when the court of Appeal per Kekere-Ekun, J.C.A held as follows; “I agree with the view of learned counsel for the respondent. The appellant and the other accused persons were all officials of Osun State Government and the project was to be executed in Osun State. The release of the funds, according to the evidence took place in Osogbo. The conspiracy allegedly took place in Osogbo. The alleged receipt of money also took place in Osogbo. Thus the fact that the funds were initially paid into an account held with National Bank, Ibadan Branch in Oyo State would not rob the Osun State High Court of jurisdiction to try the offences”

“The above judicial authorities point to the fact that criminal trials are tied to the jurisdiction of where the actual crime was committed, we are of the firm view that since none of the elements of the offence to be tried by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory happened or took place in the Federal Capital Territory, we shall be demanding that the case be tried at the High Court of Osun State being the court with the requisite jurisdiction to try the case.

“There is nothing in Section 93 (1) and (2) of the ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 2015 that can make the Police act otherwise. We are inclined to write this petition to you in order to save this well and thoroughly investigated case of any technical knock-out or technical defeat the Defence counsel can explore in order to get the suspects off the hook, without the case being properly tried in the right court, justice may be hard to serve in this case.

Flowing from the foregoing, we want to implore you, sir, to use your good office to ensure that this case is prosecuted in the appropriate court, which is the High Court of Justice, Osun State,” the petition read.

Meanwhile, Adedoyin and six others had been charged at the High Court of the FCT.

The Police excluded Adedoyin from murder charged and slammed him with a charge of attempted felony, conspiracy, unlawful interference with Adegoke’s corpse, and tampering with the hotel’s receipt and CCTV camera with the intent to destroy evidence that would prove that Adegoke visited the hotel.

Standing trial with Adedoyin are Adedeji Adesola, 23; Magdalene Chiefuna, 24; Adeniyi Aderogba, 37; Oluwale Lawrence, 37; Oyetunde Kazeem, 38; Adebayo Kunle, 35; and others still at large.

Those at large are Raheem Adedoyin, Esther Asigoh and Quadiri Moshood. Adedoyin’s son (Raheem) managed the hotel and reportedly supervised the dumping of Adegoke’s corpse far from the hotel.

Recall that Adegoke was a master’s degree student at the OAU. He left Abuja on November 5 for Ile-Ife to sit for his last examination in the university. He lodged at the hotel, where he allegedly died. He was declared missing on November 7 after his classmates discovered that he failed to show up in class at the Moro Distance Learning Centre of the OAU.

He had told his family he would check in at the hotel, where he usually lodged. Curiously, rather than pay into the hotel’s account as a client, investigations revealed he made a cash transfer into the bank account of one of the employees – an act considered irregular.

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