The Benin Judicial Division of the Court of Appeal, has discharged and acquitted a convict on death row, Tony Ikhuobase.
In a unanimous judgment with suit number CA/B/237C/14 and delivered by Justice Chidi Nwaoma Uwa, and supported by Justices Hamma Akawu Barka and Boloukuromo Moses Ugo and made available to journalists in Benin, on Tuesday, the court dismissed the death sentence passed on Ikhuobase by an Edo State High Court.
Olayiwola Afolabi appeared for the appellant with the assistance of Efosa Odiase and Miss Ofure Asuma while Mrs V. U. Adeleye, Assistant Director, Litigation, Edo State Ministry of Justice, appeared for the state in the appeal.
An Edo State High Court had on April 4, 2014, convicted Ikhuobase, a man in his thirties, on two counts of conspiracy and armed robbery punishable under Section 1 (2) (a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap II Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, Ikhuobase approached the appellate court to reverse his conviction and sentence.
Justice Uwa described as “grossly erroneous” the lower court’s non-consideration of the doubt over the weapon that was allegedly used and declared, “the puzzling question that comes to mind is: is there a Juliet Iyamu in the first place and if there is, why did she keep away from the court?
“Further, the patrol team and youths who supposedly arrested the appellant did not also testify; no items allegedly robbed were recovered; no offensive weapon was recovered or shown to have been used by the appellant.
“Having said that, I said in resolution of the sole issue, I am of the firm view that the appeal is meritorious. Instead, I discharge and acquit the appellant,” Justice Uwa said before dismissing the case for lack of a chain of links to the appellant.
Speaking on the judgement, counsel to the appellant, Olayiwola Afolabi said, “I identified a sole issue for the determination of the appeal. Did the prosecution prove the case against the appellant notwithstanding the absence of the complainant who did not testify at the trial?”