Man bags 14-year imprisonment for ‘killing’ sister

An Igbosere High Court in Lagos has sentenced a man, Obinna Udefi, to 14 years imprisonment for the 2009 death of his younger sister, Oluchi. Justice Adedayo Akintoye convicted Udefi on a one-count charge of involuntary manslaughter after discharging him of the offence of murder.

The judge upheld the defendant’s argument, made by his counsel Mrs. Grace Adenubi, that he did not deliberately kill Oluchi, as claimed by the Lagos State Government.
The State alleged that Udefi stabbed Oluchi in the stomach with a broken bottle because she refused to give him food, following which she died.
He spent nine years in prison custody during the trial which began before Justice Adeniyi Adebajo, but was concluded by Justice Akintoye.

But dismissing the state’s allegation, Justice Akintoye upheld Udefi’s argument that after he pushed Oluchi, she fell against a crate of empty bottles and landed on some of the bottles, which had broken on the floor.
A few hours later – and in unclear circumstances – she was dead.
The judge held: “The prosecution has been unable to prove that this act of the defendant was intentional….

“I further find that while the prosecution was unable to prove a case of murder, they have been able to establish a case of manslaughter.
“Once the deceased failed to answer the defendant or give him his food, he ought to have walked past her and got his food himself….
“It is clear that the act of the defendant caused the death of the deceased, albeit inadvertently.”
She noted that there was no medical report to show the exact cause of death.
Nevertheless, the judge emphasised that although Udefi’s push “was done without intent to cause grievous bodily harm or death,” he was responsible for the consequences.

“Obinna Udefi is hereby found guilty of manslaughter and is accordingly convicted,” Justice Akintoye said.
Before sentencing, Justice Akintoye asked if Udefi wanted to make an allocutus.
Adenubi, of the Legal Aid Council (LAC), prayed the court to temper justice with mercy.

She said: “The defendant lost his father due to grief after Oluchi’s death. His mother is elderly and ailing. She is bereaved of her daughter and husband, now her son has been in detention for nine years.

“He has been in custody since 2009. She had to relocate to the village. We pray your lordship to not send him back to send more years in prison. The defendant has been very well-behaved while in custody and has even become a pastor in detention.”
Following her plea, the judge said: “The defendant is hereby sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, less the period of remand from 22nd of May, 2009.”

Udefi was arraigned before Justice Adeniyi Adebajo in June 2010, on a count of murder contrary to Section 319 of the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State, 2003.
He pleaded not guilty and trial commenced.
Following the judge’s retirement, he was re-arraigned before Justice Akintoye and the case started anew.

Again, Udefi pleaded not guilty.
During examination-in-chief by Mrs. Adenubi, Udefi testified that the incident occurred on February 16, 2009, at the defendant’s home in Iwaya, Yaba, Lagos.
He was working in his dad’s shop but became hungry and came back home for food. He entered their mother’s restaurant, which was sometimes used as a kitchen. He sat on a chair, called Oluchi to give him something to eat, she did not answer him.

He called her the second time but she did not answer him. He became angry, stood up, came close to where she stood behind the counter where the food was.
Udefi said: “I wanted to push her away and get food for myself. I pushed her in anger and she fell, but to guard herself, she held on to a row of empty crates packed by the wall. The crates fell and some of the bottles broke.”
He added that she fell on a broken bottle which injured her.
He rushed her to a clinic but the doctor asked for a N200,000 deposit before he could do anything.

“I pleaded with him to accept the N50,000 I had with me, but the doctor refused. So, we came out to look for another hospital,” Udefi said.
He stated that on their way out of the hospital, his younger brother joined them. As they left, a crowd gathered and asked what happened and he said it was an accident.
According to him: “A particular man was insisting to know what happened. I told him said it was accident and he said he would help him. He made a call, stopped a commercial bus and asked us to go in with him. Unknown to me, he asked the driver to take us to a Police Post.

“When we got to the Police Post, I told the man, “this is not a hospital, I’m going to a hospital and you brought us to Police Post.”
He said at the station, he and his brother were put behind the counter and their sister was left in the bus.

They were afterwards taken to Sabo Police Station, Yaba.
He claimed that Oluchi was alive in the bus when they were put in the cell, but that afterwards he did not know where she was taken to.
“That same day, in the night, we were informed that Oluchi was dead. We were transferred to State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (SCIID) Panti, Yaba and after one month, my brother was released. I was taken to court after three months,” he said. (The Nation)

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