The Court of Appeal in Lagos, Thursday, upheld the judgment of a Lagos High Court sentencing a former Divisional Police Officer to 10 years imprisonment for the killing of one Ademola Aderinto during the January 9, 2012 protest against fuel subsidy removal in Lagos.
Segun Fabunmi, who served as the DPO of Pen Cinema Police Station in Agege, was found guilty of manslaughter by Justice Olabisi Akinlade of the Igbosere Division of the Lagos High Court.
The judge also convicted Mr. Fabunmi, who was dismissed as a Chief Superintendent of Police, guilty of shooting three other persons – Alimi Abubakar, Egbujor Samuel and Chizorba Odoh, during the protest, “thereby causing them grievous bodily harm.”
The trial of the former police officer, who joined the Force in 1984, began in 2013 at the high court where he was arraigned by the Lagos State Government on a seven-count charge bordering on murder, attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm.
The trial began one year after Mr. Aderinto, 27, was buried at the Yaba cemetery amidst tears from his family and friends.
After his conviction by the high court, Mr. Fabunmi filed a notice at the Appeal Court in Lagos to challenge the judgment of the lower Court, and urged that it should upturned.
Mr. Fabunmi’s counsel, C.J Jiakponna, had specifically urged the court to allow the appeal and acquit the appellant.
On the other hand, the Lagos State Government represented by the State’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, urged the court to affirm the decision of the lower court and dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
After considering the arguments canvassed by the counsel to the appellant (Fabunmi) and respondent (state government), the Appeal Court held that the issue of the identity of the deceased raised by the appellant was not material since it was not in doubt that the appellant shot the deceased.
The court specifically punctured the argument of the appellant saying that the defence of accident and self-defence would not avail the appellant because “these defences were mutually exclusive.”
“The appellant, being a seasoned police officer, could have reasoned to use rubber bullet, teargas etc on the mob rather than resorting to lethal weapon (AK 47),” the appellate court held, adding that the appeal lacked merit.
“The use of AK 47, a lethal weapon, convinced the lower court that the appellant had intention to cause grievous bodily harm and the defence of accident could not avail the appellant since there was clear evidence that he shot at the deceased and other persons.”