Murder: S-Court hands life sentence to ex-Naval Chief

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Nigeria’s Supreme Court, Friday, sentenced a former naval chief, Mr Felix Olanrewaju Odunlami to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of snuffing life out of a commercial motorcycle rider in Lagos State in 2005. The apex court, in a lead judgment prepared by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, equally affirmed the dismissal of the convict from the Nigerian Navy as earlier decided by the General Court Martial and the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.

Specifically, Lieutenant Odunlami, with force number: NN 2121 was said to have killed the motorcyclist identified as Peter Edeh after the deceased accidentally brushed his car.

The convict was said to be travelling from the Lagos State Secretariat at Alausa in Ikeja to Apapa on July 25, 2005, when at the Allen Roundabout, the deceased hit his car from behind with his motorcycle.

On realising that the owner of the car was a military personnel, Edeh was said to have knelt down to beg Odunlami for forgiveness.

However, Odunlami who was deeply infuriated, ignored Edeh’s plea, reached for his pistol from its holster and shot the deceased in his mouth thereby resulting to his instant death.

Enraged by the hard-hearted action of the convict, passers-by were said to have pounced on him immediately and burnt his car. It took the quick intervention of the police to rescue him from the mob which insisted that he ought to die.

Meantime, after an in-depth investigation into the circumstances that surrounded the case, Odunlami, was on January 27, 2006, arraigned before a General Court Martial on a three-count charge.

He was charged with manslaughter, loss of service item (for not being able to convincingly account for four rounds of 9mm live ammunition) and conduct to the prejudice of service discipline.

His offences were said to have ran contrary and punishable under sections 68(1)(a), 103(i) AFA 105 and 106 of the Armed Forces Act Cap A 20 laws of Nigeria.

He was subsequently found guilty and convicted on counts one and two, even as the court sentenced him to life imprisonment for manslaughter and dismissed him from service on count two.

Dissatisfied with the verdict, the convicted naval officer went on appeal and lost. In its judgment delivered on January 31, 2011, the appellate court upheld the Court Martial’s decision and dismissed Odunlami’s appeal, a decision that led him to approach the apex court.

Meanwhile, upholding the decisions of the two lower courts yesterday, the Supreme Court, held that the appellant’s defence of provocation could not avail him in view of the glaring facts of the case.

The court equally held that the trial court could not exercise its discretion to give a lower sentence because under Section 105 of the Armed Forces Act, (under which he was charged) “the trial judge has no discretion, but to sentence the appellant to life imprisonment.

“The confirming authority confirmed the sentence of life imprisonment and dismissal from service of the Nigerian Navy. It further stripped the appellant of his rank and directed that he was not entitled to his financial entitlements.


Source: Vanguard