The Court of appeal, Lagos division has discharged and acquitted a neighbourhood security guard convicted of killing his colleague in Ibadan, Oyo state.
The convict, Akosile Lekan was convicted of a one charge count of manslaughter by Justice Bayo Taiwo of the High court of Ibadan on May 16, 2016 and sentenced to four years imprisonment.
He was found guilty of manslaughter contrary to Section 217 and punishable under Section 325 of the Criminal Code Law of Oyo State 2000, Cap 38 Vol. II.
Dissatisfied with the decision, he filed six grounds of appeal at the court of appeal, Lagos praying the court to determine whether the charge on which he was tried and convicted was not defective as to render it incompetent and rob the court of jurisdiction. This is because the officer who signed it did not affix the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) stamp on it.
The appellant also asked the court to determine whether having found that he has shown that the act of shooting the deceased was accidental and without any criminal intent, the trial Judge was not in error when he held that he was negligent in the handling of the gun that killed the deceased instead of resolving all reasonable doubts in his favour.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Ebiowei Tobi, the court of appeal upturned the decision of the lower court, acquitted and discharged the appellant.
“The lower court in my view was wrong in coming to the conclusion that the appellant was negligent in handling the gun and therefore the defence of accident did not avail him. After a review of the evidence and the position of the law, I am firm in holding that the defence of accident under Section 24 of the Criminal Code Law of Oyo State avails the appellant. I resolve this issue in favour of the appellant,” Justice Tobi held.
The court however, held that not having NBA stamp on the charge did not rob the court of jurisdiction. “In my opinion, I do not see the act of the respondent affixing the stamp of a lawyer different from the lawyer who signed the charge, capable and sufficient enough in misleading the appellant; as to cause him a miscarriage of justice.
In the circumstance I cannot see my way clear in holding for the appellant. This issue is resolved against the appellant and in favour of the respondent,” the court held. The two other justices, Helen Ogunwumiju and Joseph Ikyegh concurred with the decision.