Emmanuel Thomas l Wednesday, October 18, 2017
IKEJA, Lagos, Nigeria – A Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja today acquited Nkese Iroakasi, a 55 year old nurse of allegations of murdering her relative, Eno Bassey by setting her on fire.
She was aquitted for want of dilligent prosecution. Iroakasi, was arraigned for charge of murdering Bassey at her residence at No.7, Adeniran Ogunsanya St., Surulere, Lagos at 2.30pm on July, 27, 2013.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi said “The prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased died as a result of the defendant’s action. The defendant, Nkese Iroakasi, is hereby found not guilty of the one-count charge of murder against her. She is hereby discharged and acquitted and shall be released forth with from custody.”
The prosecution had alleged during the trial that Iroakasi set Bassey on fire over allegation that she (Bassey) stole a piece of meat. Led by Mrs R.O Ahmed-Muili, Bassey, the prosecution said he fled the scene into the street where the fire was put off.
Eno Bassey died 10-days after the alleged incident at the Gbagada General Hospital, Gbagada, Lagos. Five passersby- a security guard, an architect and two police officers and a medical doctor in their testimony claimed that the child kept on muttering “mummy”, indicative of the fact that she identified Iroakasi as her assailant. Iroakasi denied the claims. She however told the court that Bassey set herself alight while playing with the kerosene stove in the kitchen.
“I was lying down and resting in the living room because I was due for night shift at work.I heard a loud noise from the direction of the kitchen and Eno who was on fire, ran into the living room and into the streets,” she said.
Ruling on the case, Justice Adebiyi noted that that the evidence of the prosecution was not strong enough to secure a conviction.
“All the prosecution witnesses were not eye witnesses to the murder, so none of them saw how the deceased sustained her injuries. The defendant did not make any confessional statement, the statement of the defendant tendered to the court dated July 29, 2013 and Aug. 8, 2013 did not contain a confession by the defendant.
“The evidence before the court was circumstantial evidence. Evidence to ground a guilty conviction must be positively unequivocal to lead irresistibility to the conclusion that it was the accused that committee the offence,” she said.
The judge also noted that there were inconsistencies in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses about the ‘dying declaration’ of the deceased that it was Iroakasi that set her ablaze.
“The law requires that a dying declaration to be certain, the court finds in this instance that the deceased calling for ‘mummy’ or ‘Iya mi’ does not qualify as a dying declaration,” Adebiyi said.