Tope Oluwasile was arrested on the 30th June 2002, on allegation of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death by the Lagos High Court. The Court of Appeal, Lagos had on the 9th December, 2013 delivered
judgment in his favour and found him innocent, following the appeal filed by his lawyers at Legal Defence and Assistance Project – (LEDAP).
The case against Tope Oluwasile brought at the high court, The case against him was that on the 30th day of June 2002 along the Railway Line beside the Ikeja Local Government Secretariat, he conspired to rob and robbed while armed with a kitchen knife, one Sergeant Ishola Isiaka of his handset and sim card valued at N20,000 (Twenty Thousand naira) . However, Mr.Oluwasile claimed he was innocent. He stated at the trial court that he was arrested on the 30th June, 2002 while he was plying his trade as a commercial bus driver during a police raid at Shogunle bus stop, Ikeja. He was charged along with three other persons whom he only met for the first time in custody. Nevertheless he was convicted and sentenced to death.
Following the appeal against his conviction and sentence, filed by LEDAP, a panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division to wit; Honourable Justices J. S. Ikyegh, M. M. Saulawa and C. E. Iyizoba on the 9th of December, 2013 unanimously allowed the appeal.
In the judgment, Court resolved all the issues raised at the appeal in favour of the appellant. In particularly, the court found that the case of the prosecution was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
This is another case that 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 due to the high and continuously growing number of wrongful convictions in the country.
In a study in 2011, LEDAP found that 46% of the cases in which appellants were sentenced to death were overturned on appeal, giving indication of a high possibility of wrongful convictions.
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.