Justice Ibironke Harrison of a Lagos High Court on Monday sentenced to death, a police officer, Drambi Vandi, who shot dead a Lagos-based lawyer, Mrs Bolanle Raheem, on Christmas Day.
Vandi, was on January 16, arraigned by the Lagos State Government on a count charge of murder.
The Lagos State Government, which prosecuted the case, had said Vandi shot dead pregnant Raheem on December 25, 2022, at Ajah Roundabout on Lekki- Expressway.
The court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square remanded the defendant after his arraignment and granted accelerated hearing of the case.
While delivering judgment, Harrison said that non of the eyewitness actually saw the defendant pull the trigger.
She, however, held that circumstantial evidence was overwhelming to prove that Vandi murdered Raheem.
According to the judge, a defendant can be convicted when circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.
The judge said, “The question in the mind of the court is: Did the prosecution provide any additional evidence?
“The court finds that the ammunition of the other officers who were on patrol with the defendant remained intact but two of the defendant’s ammunition were missing.”
Harrison said that the defendant had alleged that the shortfall in his ammunition was because it was counted in his absence.
The judge also noted that Vandi testified that the bullet tendered in court was not his, saying, however, that Vandi constituted himself as a ballistician pathologist without tendering a certificate to that effect.
She, therefore, dismissed the evidence.
“The court finds that the forensic expert and the medical doctor’s evidence confirm the circumstantial evidence that the defendant had the opportunity to shoot the victim and that the victim was shot and died from the gunshot.
“Every eyewitness heard the loud noise and passers-by shouted in Yoruba Language (oti pa eyan) meaning: you have killed someone,” she said.
Harrison held that the prosecution proved its case beyond every reasonable doubt that it was the convict who shot the gun that killed the deceased.
“The death of the deceased was instantaneous. There is no other explanation, it was the gunshot that shattered the side glass and pierced the victim’s chest.
“It was the defendant who had an AK-47 riffle whose ammunition was missing after the armourer counted it,” she held.
She also held that the defendant did not say that he pointed the gun to force or scare people in the vehicle to obey order and park the vehicle.
She added that the defendant did not say that the shooting was accidental which would have earned him a smaller sentence of manslaughter.
“Therefore, the defendant is found guilty of the one count charge and sentenced to death by hanging until he dies,” she held.
The prosecution called 11 witnesses, including eight police officers during the trial.
The first prosecution witness Insp. Mattew Ameh, had on Jan. 16, testified that the defendant, Insp Ebimine Fiyegha and himself were sent to Ajah Under Bridge on a stop-and-search operation.
He testified that a Toyota car with no number plate was flagged down by Fiyegha, but it did not stop.
The witness said that he also flagged the car to stop but it did not.
He said that the next thing he heard was a gunshot.
Vandi, in his defence, told the court that he had never come across the bullet shown in the court as the weapon used to murder Raheem.
He said that the bullet was not the same ammunition in his rifle on the day of the incident.
The prosecution closed its case on Feb. 25.
On Feb. 28, Vandi, through his counsel, Mr Gbenro Gbadamosi, filed an application, praying the court to quash the charge against him.
Gbadamosi argued that evidence of the prosecution witnesses were inconsistent and did not link Vandi to the murder.
On April 3, the court, however, dismissed the no-case submission.
Harrison held that prosecution established sufficient oral and documentary evidence linking Vandi to the crime, which required explanation from him.
Harrison added that evidence by Vandi would shed light on what happened.
Vandi gave evidence and closed his case on May 31.
His counsel had told the court that Vandi was the sole defence witness.
On July 13, the parties adopted their written addresses, and the court reserved judgment until Oct. 9.
Murder contravenes Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.