Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
The Chief Judge of Oyo State, Muntar Abimbola, monday sentenced Yewande Oyediran to seven years imprisonment for killing of her husband, Lowo Oyediran 21 months ago in Ibadan.
Justice Abimbola, the presiding judge of the state High Court 1 Ibadan found Yewande culpable of the death of her husband, with the caveat that the term of imprisonment should cover the day of her arrest February last year.
Yewande was alleged to have stabbed Lowo on February 2, 2016, at their number 30, Adeniyi Layout, Abidi-odan, Akobo, Ibadan residence, following a misunderstanding that broke out late in the night.
The court held that although, evidences showed that she was responsible for the death of her husband, none of the witnesses was able to establish the intent of the accused or described seeing her commit the crime.
The court however noted that the killing was done without intent going by the fact that the couple were married at the time of the incident.
Yewande was arraigned on a lone count charge of allegedly killing her husband with knife.
The offence was said to be contrary to Section 316 and punishable under section 319 of the laws of Oyo State.
The accused however pleaded not guilty to the charge when the charge was read to her in court.
The chief justice who earlier apologised to the court for deferring the judgment initially slated for Friday, said other official engagement at the National Judicial Council (NJC) necessitated the postponement of the judgment till yesterday.
Abimbola held that the incident was a fall out of a spontaneous fight between the couple, adding that none of the witnesses was able to establish the case of intent in the incident that led to the injury that caused the death.
Justifying the reason for the sentence, the judge maintained that there was no need for a second attack on the deceased as given by the oral evidences of the witnesses.
According to the judge, the witnesses had told the court that there had been an initial attack where Yewande was said to have stabbed the late husband with scissors but that the matter was settled before the one that led to the death of the deceased hours later.
Making further clarification, Justice Abimbola described the killing as spontaneous and held that it was a fallout of marital fight and misunderstanding between the couple.
According to the court, the killing was not premeditated and there was no intention by Yewande to kill Lowo, which made the case a manslaughter and not murder, which could have attracted death penalty.
After the court had established a case of manslaughter against Yewande and found her guilty of same, the lead defence counsel, Mr. Leye Adepoju, pleaded the court for leniency noting that a long sentence could further damage and ruin the person of the accused.
He also appealed to the court to consider the option of sending the accused to a correctional facility where she could be reformed and made better instead of a prison where she could suffer more damage and ruin.
Speaking on the judgment after the court session, the counsel to the defendant, Adepoju said the defence team would obtain and study the judgment and thereafter decide whether to proceed to the Court of Appeal or not, but added that in the first instance the defence team had been able to change the murder charge to manslaughter.
The private prosecutor engaged by the state Ministry of Justice to prosecute the case, Mr. Akinyele Sanyaolu, while commending the judgment expressed satisfaction, just as he described it as well researched judgment.
He however added that he would report what happened in the court to the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Oyo State for further directives on the matter.
Sanyaolu said: â€œI am satisfied with the judgment but I donâ€™t know whether the state will be happy or not. I will write my report back to the Oyo State Government through the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice to look into it.
â€œThe court has really done a very great job. The issue was that the court was able to establish between murder and manslaughter when it comes to matrimonial matters and that is why it came to the issue of intention which was why the court didnâ€™t sentence the accused to death because they were married and the law presumed that she doesnâ€™t have the intention to kill her husband but if it were to be a third party, such a person is going to the gallow.
â€œThat was the reason the court had to substitute it with manslaughter.â€
He also called in the National Assembly and government at the Federal and State levels to consider the option of establishing correctional facilities where people who commit such crimes could be sentenced owing to the increasing reported cases of women killing their husbands in recent time.
In the same vein, a legal practitioner, Mr. Femi Aborisade, who represented a non governmental organisation, Women Arise, described the judgement as â€œjustice for Lowoâ€
He said: â€œI think that the court has done justice to Lowo because the Court painstakingly, soberly and calmly appraised the evidences before it and came to the conclusion that the defendant is guilty as charged and I think that is justice for Lowo.â€