A man, Shokogayi Tegbedaye, standing trial for culpable homicide has been discharged and acquitted by the High Court of Justice sitting in Kogi State.
He was charged before the state’s High Court 1 presided over by his lordship, Hon. Justice Nasiru Ajanah, the Chief Judge of Kogi State on a count charge of culpable homicide.
The particulars of the offence in the matter with suit number HCL/66/2019 alleged that the defendant shot and caused the death of one Jonathan Joshua on 11th September, 2019 thereby committing culpable homicide contrary to section 221(a) of the penal code which is punishable with death.
However, proceedings in the matter were brought to an end as the court ruled that there was no enough prosecutorial evidence to continue with the trial of the defendant.
According to Justice Ajanah, “two witnesses were called by the prosecution and they were not able to lead evidence to prove any of the essential ingredients required in the offence of this nature.”
Still on evidential proof, Justice Ajanah noted that it was difficult to link the purported death of the said deceased to the defendant as there was neither proof of anybody’s death nor evidence before the court to indicate that the defendant committed the offence.
The prosecution had alleged in the charge sheet that the defendant caused the death of one Jonathan Joshua at Asawa village, Lokoja Local Government Area, within the Kogi State judicial division with a Dane gun but the Chief Judge observed that there was no proof of death in the evidence before the court.
“There is no proof that anybody died as there was no medical report that such happened nor can one unilaterally determine what the cause of death is. There is no evidence linking the defendant with the commission of the offence as the two witnesses that testified were not eye witnesses but Police Officers that carried out investigation and were only narrating what they were told. In the circumstance, it becomes impossible to proceed against the defendant as there is no further evidence to be given by the prosecution.”
Emphasizing on the value of evidence and its proof, the judge said: “The prosecution that alleges the commission of the said offence is saddled with the task of proving it beyond reasonable doubt. The Defendant in a criminal trial is not obliged to enter any defense unless there is a prima facie case established against him. I am therefore inclined to agree with the prosecution that the defendant is entitled to be discharged of the offence levelled against him.”
His lordship went further to safeguard the freedom of the defendant while taking judicial notice that the defendant had spent months in detention illegally.
“In order to ensure that the defendant does not face any double jeopardy in this case by a likely further prosecution, especially after spending up to four months unjustifiably in detention, I hereby make an order discharging and acquitting him for want of evidence. The Defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted on the offence of Culpable Homicide punishable with death.”
Meanwhile, after the prosecution admitted the lack of witness and medical evidence to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond reasonable doubt, the Chief Judge, in his conclusion, commended the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution of the Kogi State Ministry of Justice saying she was a prosecutor in the temple of justice and not a persecutor.
“After listening to learned Deputy Director of Public prosecution, I must say, as always, that I am impressed with her candour and uprightness in again proving to the court that she is an officer in the temple of justice and a prosecutor not a persecutor.”