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With the trial concluded in the charge against Mr. Lekan Shonde for the murder of his wife, Mrs. Ronke Shonde, the parties today adopted their final written addresses today at the High Court of Lagos, Ikeja. Mr. Lekan had been the sole witness in his defence and had testified in court on the 24th of October 2018.The Court had adjourned to the 30th of November 2018 for the adoption of final written addresses but did not sit on that date. The charge had been further adjourned to today.
Beginning the arguments, Chief Robert Clarke SAN representing Mr. Shonde stated that he had carried out a personal research and had asked nine people, five women and four men, what their reactions would be if they had heard the words Mr. Lekan had heard when he entered his home on the fateful day. He stated that all except one said they would have reacted the same way Mr. Lekan had. He argued that all participants of the survey agreed that the circumstances of the case and particularly the words uttered by the deceased wife would create a natural fit of anger and provocation. He further argued that there was no way the defendant could have known that his actions will lead to the death of the deceased. He argued that there was no dangerous weapon discovered in the house and that the evidence before the court was that the two children of the marriage who were asleep in their room did not hear any noise or wake up leading to the reasonable conclusion that the scuffle between the couple was short-lived.
Chief Clarke further argued that the autopsy report which showed undigested food in the deceased’s stomach corroborates the evidence of Mr. Lekan that he and his wife reconciled after their quarrel and ate dinner. He further argued that there is no direct evidence of wife beating. He described the evidence of the deceased’s sister as to the history of domestic violence as prejudicial and argued that it should not be considered by the court.
Chief Clarke argued that intention is a key element in murder and stated that there is no scintilla of evidence showing intention. He argued that what the evidence shows instead is an instantaneous reaction. He stated that knowing the position of the law that even where there is no intention, the court can still convict for murder where it is shown that the force used was such that a reasonable man should know could lead to death, he argued that the court should take judicial notice of the fact that domestic violence was not an abnormal thing in Nigeria and indeed the world. He argued that there was no intention to kill and that no reasonable man could have expected a slap to result in death.
In conclusion, he stated that the defence had raised an alternative defence of provocation.
Mr. Osuola who represented the State began his oral address to the court by stating that in a charge of murder, the prosecution has three elements which must be proved: i. that the deceased is dead; ii. That the death was caused by the defendant; and iii. That the death is intentional. He argued that this can be proved either by direct evidence, circumstantial evidence or confessional statement of the defendant. He argued that the prosecution had proved the three elements in this case.
Mr. Osuala submitted that the doctrine of last-seen which states that the person last seen with a deceased person must provide logical and reasonable cause for the death of the deceased is applicable in the instant case. On the issue of intention, Mr. Osuala referred the court to the evidence of the medical examiner which showed both old and new hemorrhaging as well as the evidence of the deceased’s sister as to the history of domestic violence. He also urged the court to note that the defendant after the death of the deceased locked the house and went away with her telephone and keys and did not return but rather turned himself to the police after he was broadcasted as a wanted man.
He submitted that the lack of noise of the incident is indicative of the fact that it was not a fight as suggested by the defence, but was a simple act of a man killing his wife.
Mr. Osuala argued the position of the law that a man intends the consequence of his act and stated that Mr. Lekan intended to cause grievous bodily harm to his wife as he had done on numerous occasions and should be held liable for his act. He argued that the defence of provocation would not avail the defendant as he was the aggressor in this instance. He urged the court to convict Mr. Lekan of the murder of his wife.
The case has been adjourned to the 18th of January 2019 for judgment.