Thirty nine-year-old police sergeant, Rasaki Alowonle, has been arraigned before an Ebute Meta Chief Magistrate’s Court, Lagos State, for shooting and causing the death of a nine year-old-boy, Timilehin Ebun.
The sergeant was arraigned for manslaughter on Thursday at the court after a legal advice from the state’s Directorate of Public Prosecution cleared him of murder.
PUNCH Metro had reported that Timilehin was in his father’s car when he was hit and killed by a bullet from Alowonle’s rifle on June 13, 2013.
The incident, which occurred at the Ketu area of Lagos, had sparked public outrage, with the father of the deceased asking that murder charges be preferred against Alowonle.
However, the DPP’s advice said he should be tried for manslaughter.
The advice, which was dated November 11, 2013, also stated that 10 police officers and a civilian, named Babatunde Omoniyi, who purportedly triggered the incident, should be discharged and acquitted because there was no enough evidence to establish a case against them.
The advice read, “The facts in the duplicate case file revealed that the incident that led to the death of the deceased occurred on June 13, 2013. Rasak Alowonle and his team members were on patrol when they saw a commercial bus and its driver, Babatunde Omoniyi, obstructing traffic.
“They tried to seize the commercial bus from him, but he refused. The commotion drew the attention of a large crowd. This crowd that consisted of area boys attacked the police officers with stones and bottles. Rasaki Alowonle fired his gun in order to disperse the mob, unfortunately the bullet hit the deceased.
“The suspect confessed that he fired the gun that killed the deceased and the law is settled that where the confession is clear and unequivocal, a court can convict. The law further holds that a free and involuntary admission of guilt by an accused if direct, positive and properly established is sufficient proof of guilt.
“It is clear from the facts above that the intention to kill or cause grievous harm is absent.”
The advice added that the suspect should therefore be tried for “involuntary manslaughter”, while the 11 others allowed to go.
PUNCH Metro had also reported on Tuesday that Alowonle was dismissed from the police after an orderly room trial was conducted for him on July 29, 2013.
The Police Provost had also advised that he should be prosecuted for the crime after his dismissal from the force.
Consequently, the police brought one count charge against him.
The charge read, “That you, Rasaki Alowonle, on June 13, 2013, at 8.30pm, at Mile 12, Ketu Lagos, in the Lagos Magisterial District, with gross negligence, did cause the death of one Ebun Oluwatimilehin, aged nine years, by shooting him with a gun and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2011.”
He pleaded not guilty to the charge and asked to be tried at the magistrate’s court.
His defence counsel, Spurgeon Ataene, and Ade Agunbiade, asked for his bail in liberal terms.
Ataene said, “This is pursuant to Section 264 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Lagos State and Section 36(5) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution. We want the bail in liberal terms.”
The prosecutor, ASP Etim Ekankuk, who stood in for the resident prosecutor, Inspector Richard Odige, did not object to the bail.
The Chief Magistrate, Mrs. A.A Demi-Ajayi, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N500,000 with two responsible sureties in like terms.
The matter was adjourned till January 15, 2014 for mention.