An Ikeja High Court has sentenced a 51-year-old dockworker, Lekan Shonde, to death by hanging for beating his 39-year-old wife, Ronke, to death at their Egbeda, Lagos residence.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Justice Josephine Oyefeso found Lekan guilty of murder in a two and a half hours judgment on Friday which was also the International Women’s Day.
“This is the sentence of the court upon you: That you should be hanged by the neck until you are dead. May the Lord have mercy upon you,” Oyefeso said.
The judge held that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt in the light of overwhelming evidence against Lekan.
“The violence used by the defendant was in excess of a reasonable man.
“The defendant was very economical with the truth, stating in his evidence before the court that he only slapped his wife when he overheard her on a phone praising the sexual prowess of a lover.
“This does not match the degree of injuries indicated by the autopsy report,” she said.
Oyefeso said that the report of a pathologist, Dr Shokunle Shoyemi indicated that there were old and fresh injuries Ronke, a banker.
She said that bruises on the deceased’s cheeks, blood collection in the brain, brain swelling and other multiple injuries could not have been self-inflicted.
The judge held that the sentence was in line with Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that, on hearing the sentence, Lekan appeared perplexed as he alighted from the dock.
He was immediately told to sit down for a while in the courtroom before he was whisked away by a prison official.
Mr I.B. Mohammed, who held brief for Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), Lekan’s counsel, had in his allocutus (plea for mercy) prayed the judge to temper justice with mercy.
“My Lord, we want to plead with the court to, while administering justice in this case, see reasons in this allocutus to temper justice with mercy.
“There are two children in the marriage. I know as a matter of fact that these two children have passed through worst moments of their lives; agonies that are immeasurable.
“I know, if these two children have any control over this proceeding, it will be that their father should not be prosecuted at all. But since it was not so, their wish is that their father should be sentenced in very liberal terms.
“The defendant has no criminal record, he has developed failing health since his detention.
“This defendant hardly sees very well, he sees faintly. My Lord, he is hypertensive, the authority of the prison can confirm this,” Mohammed said.
NNN reports that Lekan, who was arraigned on Oct. 24, 2017, on a charge of murder, had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
During the trial, the sister of the deceased, the investigating police officer, the pathologist and the nanny to the children of the deceased, all testified for the prosecution while Lekan was the sole witness for the defence.
The pathologist testified on Sept. 25, 2018, that Ronke suffered from severe brain injuries which led to her death.
In his evidence on Oct. 24, 2018, exactly a year after his arraignment, Lekan denied killing his wife.
He said he only slapped her during an argument over her alleged extramarital affair.
The prosecution led by Mr Y. G. Oshoala, had said that Lekan committed the murder at 8.30p.m. on May 5, 2016, at their residence at No. 3, Tiemo Close, Egbeda, Lagos.
The dockworker was said to have locked their residence and fled after Ronke’s death, leaving her corpse in the living room.
The crime scene was discovered by neighbours, who heard the cries of their two children struggling to “wake up” their lifeless mother.
The story of Ronke’s death went viral on social media and Lekan was said to have surrendered to the relevant authorities five days later, after an extensive hunt for him.