by Stanley Azuakola
An ex-police corporal, Ikechukwu Nwabueze was sentenced to death by hanging, by an Ikeja High Court in Lagos, on Thursday for killing a three-year-old girl, Kasufara Muritala.
The presiding judge, Justice Olabisi Akinlade, found the 35-year-old former policeman guilty of the crime which was brought before the court by the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions on June 15, 2010.
According to Olabisi Ogungbesan, the director of public prosecution, Nwabueze had on April 5, 2009 at a police check-point at Ketu-Alapere, Lagos, shot at a Nissan Sunny car conveying the deceased and her parents at about 9.30pm when the family was returning from a naming ceremony.
The father of the deceased, Saliu Muritala, was hit on his hand while the little girl, who was sitting on the back sit with her mother, was shot in the head.
Upon seeing the lifeless body of the deceased, when the father came out of the car, the five policemen at the checkpoint, from Alarepe Police Station, fled from the scene.
The judge held that the prosecution proved its case against Nwabueze beyond reasonable doubt. She said the defendant in his confessional statement to the police after his arrest, had admitted shooting at the rear of the car but not with the intent to kill the deceased. She dismissed the accused’s attempt to deny the statement, saying it was not made “voluntarily.” She called it an “after-thought aimed at misleading the court.”
“It is trite law that a confessional statement of a defendant is relevant and should not be discarded merely on the basis that he had retracted the statement during trial,” the judge said.