The Ekiti State High Court on Monday discharged and acquitted the Chairman of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in Ekiti State, Adeniyi Adedipe, and six others members of murder after the prosecution presented contradictory evidences during trial.
Others freed by the court include Adebayo Aderiye, Sola Durodola, Kayode Ajayi, Oso Farotimi, Sola Adenijo and Rotimi Olanbiwonnu, who are also members of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
They were standing trial for the murder of former Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Omolafe Aderiye.
Mr. Aderiye, a close associate of Governor Ayodele Fayose, was killed in Ijigbo area of Ado-Ekiti on September 25, 2014, but the accused persons had remained in detention since then.
The judge, Lekan Ogunmoye, in the judgement, submitted that the prosecution failed to prove the count of conspiracy to kill the late Mr. Aderiye and the count of murder against all the seven defendants.
The judge faulted the evidence of one witness, Ibidapo, that one Adesokan Adedeji Israel emerged from a Golf Car and shot sporadically into the air before firing the shot that killed the late transporter.
“It is inconceivable that amidst sporadic gunshots, the witness would observe the purported killer(s) as what would be in the mind of the witness was how to escape from the scene hence the court won’t believe Ibidapo’s evidence,” said the judge.
The judge also noted the “inconsistencies in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses has created a doubt. Where two or more witnesses give contradictory evidence, it will be illogical to believe their testimony.”
“None of the alibi raised by the defendants was investigated by the police. The evidence of the prosecution failed to bring down the evidence of the defendants,” the judge said.
“The plea of evidence succeeds that the accused were not at the scene of the crime. The prosecution failed to rebut the evidence of the defendants.
“The prosecution has been unable to prove that the death of Chief Omolafe Aderiye was caused by any of the defendants.
“There was nowhere conspiracy can be inferred against any of the defendants. The first to seventh defendants are hereby discharged and acquitted.”
Defence lawyers, Adetunji Oso, Isaac Omolade, Adeoye Aribasoye, hailed the court for the judgment.
Prosecution lawyer, Mohammed Alaaya, also praised the court “for looking at the evidence brought before it.”
Reacting to the judgement, former Governor, and APC chieftain, Segun Oni, said the release of the detainees had again proved that the judiciary remains the last hope of the common man,
Mr. Oni was in court to show solidarity with the detainees.
“I want to salute the judiciary for again displaying independence by freeing these innocent Nigerians who were holed up in the prison over offence they didn’t commit,” Mr Oni said.