A non-profit organisation, Foundation for Public Interest Law and Development, (FPIL&D), has secured the release of Gabriel Enejo, a police officer who has spent ten years in detention over his alleged involvement in the death of one Azeez Omotosho in Oshodi area of Lagos.
A statement on Sunday signed by Hammed Muritala, the Publicity Secretary of the foundation, noted that Justice Ibironke Harrison of the Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, discharged the accused for want of diligent prosecution after hearing the application of his counsel, Nurudeen Yusuf who is the Executive Director of FPIL&D.
According to the judge, the prosecutors 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, over an allegation of murder of Azeez Omotosho at Ajisegiri Street, Shogunle, Oshodi, Lagos State.
The incident reportedly occurred when Enejo responded to a distress call about a brawl in the Oshodi area of Lagos.
Responding to questions from Justice Harrison at the resumed hearing of his case on November 9, 2023, Enejo narrated that while he was attempting to disarm a hoodlum involved in the fight, a mob attacked and stabbed him on the head.
The police officer further 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 the death of Omotosho when he got back to the Police Station where he was stationed.
Enejo was in police detention for 237 days before he was taken to Ebute-Metta Magistrate Court for remand proceedings on 26, June, 2014.
The Court denied the accused bail application and ordered that he be remanded at the Ikoyi Custodial Centre, Lagos.
After his 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
FPIL&D, Yusuf Nurudeen learnt of his case and thereafter, filed an application for the enforcement of his fundamental rights on 31st of December, 2021 before the Lagos State High Court.
Subsequently, the Director of Public Prosecution in Lagos filed charges against Enejo on August 22, 2022, and was arraigned before Justice Harrison on June 8, 2023.
However, owing 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 its murder allegation against the accused.
The defendant’s counsel, Nurudeen, therefore, made a passionate appeal to the Court to strike out the matter due to lack of diligent prosecution, relying on 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.
Delivering 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 discharge him.
In his reaction to the judgement, Nurudeen said he was delighted that Enejo has been finally set free after suffering incarceration for 10 years.
He added that his organisation would continue to fight against violation of fundamental human rights and assist those in need get justice.