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Ex-SARS operative bags death sentence for murder

…as court convicts four other operatives

Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele of an Edo State High Court in Benin City has sentenced a dismissed policeman, Joseph Omotosho, to death by hanging or chemical infusion for having a hand in the killing of a car dealer, Benson Obodeh. Omotosho was convicted for the crime alongside four dismissed ex-operatives of the disbanded Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) who are currently on the run.

The four policemen: Adeleke Adedeji, Oniyo Musa, Abena John and Henry Shobowale, were said to have escaped during the “prison break” that was part of #EndSARS protests when two Correctional Centres in Benin and Oko were destroyed. Having found them guilty of the crime, Justice Ovbiagele sentenced Omotosho to seven years imprisonment for conspiracy, and death by hanging or chemical infusion for murder. The state High Court in Benin City, Edo, gave the verdict on February 12. The judge, however, suspended the sentencing of the absconded police officers pursuant to Section 352(5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Edo State until when the convicts are presented before the court.

The five defendants were tried by the Edo State Government on an eight-count charge of conspiracy, murder and stealing. In the course of trial, 19 witnesses, including eyewitnesses to the torture, and a pathologist testified. Autopsy report tendered before the court indicated that the deceased had a heart condition and it was the torture that caused his heart to fail.

In the course of trial, the court heard how the policemen took Obodeh, upon a theft allegation, to the Edo State CID Office, Benin, where their attempt to extract a confession from him by torture led to his death on the 21st of May 2015. The defendants were said to have thereafter deposited the corpse at the morgue in Central Hospital Benin and tagged the corpse by a wrong name, Benson Agu.

It was said to have taken several months before the family of the deceased could trace the corpse. The court was also told of how the police officers travelled to Port Harcourt and, on 22nd and 23rd May, 2015, used the deceased’s ATM card to withdraw N350,000 from his account.

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