As the Christmas approached, the gate of Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison was opened to Kingsley Akhabue, Ismail Fatoki and Fabian Matthew after being discharged and acquitted by the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos.The trio was arrested on the 24th day of March, 2008 on allegations of Conspiracy to commit Armed Robbery and Armed Robbery and subsequently convicted and sentenced to death on 29th March, 2011 by the Lagos High Court.
“We cannot continue to be sentencing innocent persons to death, only for the appeal court to upturn the judgment after a decade or more when the appellant must have served unlawful sentence and deprivation of his personal liberty in the prison.”
– Mr Chino Obiagwu (National Coordinator, LEDAP)
The case against Kingsley Akhabue, Ismaila Fatoki and Fabian Mathew at the High Court was that they conspired to rob, and did rob the complainant on 22th March, 2008 while armed with offensive weapons. It was alleged that the said robbery took place at the Egan area of Lagos. At the end of the trial in 2011, the trial court found them guilty and sentenced them to death.
Following the appeal against their conviction and sentence, filed by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), a panel of Justices presided by Hon Justice Joseph Shagbaor Ikyegh of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division on the 11thDecember, 2015 unanimously allowed the appeal of the three Appellants and set aside their conviction and sentence to death in a landmark judgment. In the judgment, the Honourable court resolved all the issues raised at the appeal in favor of Kingsley Akhabue, Ismaila Fatoki and Fabian Mathew, the Appellants in the appeal. In the end, the court particularly found that: the evidence of the Respondent at the Court below did not link the Appellant with the commission of the offences charged.
Read the report by Punch Newspaper:
According to their lawyer, Chino Obiagwu, “This is another opportunity to re-iterate our calls for an in-depth re-evaluation and urgent overhauling of our Criminal Justice System, especially as it relates to the use of capital punishment. We cannot continue to be sentencing innocent persons to death, only for the appeal court to upturn the judgment after a decade or more when the appellant must have served unlawful sentence and deprivation of his personal liberty in the prison.”
LEDAP uses this medium to call on the Nigeria government to reconsider its stand on the use of capital punishment by abolishing the use of death penalty and replacing same with life imprisonment.
Watch the cover of the story by Channels Television here.