A Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square has ordered the release of a police officer, Gabriel Enejo, who has spent 10 years in detention over his alleged involvement in the death of one Azeez Omotosho in the Oshodi area of the state.
Enejo was released for want of diligent prosecution.
Justice Ibironke Harrison, who made the order after hearing the application of the defendant’s lawyer, Nurudeen Yusuf, said the prosecutor failed to establish proof of murder against the accused person.
Enejo, who was attached to the Ikeja Police Station, was arrested on November 2, 2013, for alleged murder of one Azeez Omotosho at Ajisegiri Street, Shogunle, Oshodi, Lagos State.
The incident reportedly occurred when Enejo responded to a distress call about a brawl in Oshodi.
Responding to questions from Justice Harrison at the resumed hearing of the case on November 9, Enejo said he was attacked and stabbed by a mob while he was attempting to disarm a hoodlum involved in the fight.
The police officer explained that the mob also tried to seize his A.K 47 rifle, and as he was dragging the rifle with them, it fell and started discharging.
According to him, he only learnt of Omotosho’s death when he got back to the Police Station where he was stationed.
The Guardian learnt that Enejo spent 237 days in police detention before he was taken to Ebute-Metta Magistrate’s Court for remand proceedings on June 26, 2014. The court denied him bail, and ordered his remand at the Ikoyi Custodial Centre, Lagos.
Upon Enejo’s remand, the prosecutors failed to bring Enejo to court for proper arraignment, leaving him to languish in prison.
Relief, however, came his way when a human rights lawyer and Executive Director of Foundation for Public Interest Law and Development (FPIL&D), Yusuf Nurudeen, learnt of his case and thereafter, filed an application for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights on December 31, 2021, before the Lagos State High Court .
Subsequently, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Lagos filed charges against Enejo on August 22, 2022, and he was arraigned before Justice Harrison on June 8, 2023.
Due to the prolonged duration of the case, the court ordered accelerated hearing, giving the prosecution four months to present its case.
However, the prosecution failed to provide any witness to prove the murder allegation against the accused.
The defendant’s counsel, Nurudeen, who cited Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 232 of the Lagos State Administration of Criminal Justice (Amendment) Law 2021, urged the court to strike out the matter for lack of diligent prosecution.
In her ruling, Justice Harrison held that since it was evident that the possibility of the prosecution getting a witness to prove their case was not visible, the court was constrained to strike out the charge brought against the defendant, and accordingly discharged him.