Shock pervaded the quiet atmosphere of the Ebute Meta Magistrate’s Court, Lagos, after an investigating police officer, Corporal Alagbe Olumide, admitted that he was forced to arraign a murder suspect, Ayodimeji Alegbeleye, for the crime he never committed.
Alegbeleye, 29, was being tried for the murder of one James Igbahan in January 2013 at Ajah.
The police had claimed that the accused stabbed Igbahan with knife in his left ribs which led to his death.
After the two counts were read to him, and he had pleaded not guilty, the prosecution lawyer filed application for his remand in prison custody pending the advice from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
However, the defence counsel protested the application, saying the accused knew nothing about the crime.
The magistrate, Mrs. M.O Tanimola, thereafter summoned the police to give an account of what had transpired.
In his report to the court, Olumide said he was told to arraign the accused, adding that the investigation had shown that he was only a friend to the real suspect.
He said, “My Lord, it was his friend that stabbed the deceased. The real offender is now at large.
“Alegbeleye was arraigned because we found him at the scene of the crime.
“The junior brother of the suspect had earlier been arrested, but the Ajah Police Division released him.”
The magistrate further queried why the defendant was charged when he was not the suspect.
“The police authorities said I should charge him with murder. I told them that my investigation showed he was not part of it, but they insisted that I should charge him, and I didn’t know what to do,” he submitted.
Olumide said statements taken from the accused showed he had returned from his work and met the two men arguing over matters connected with cultism.
He said he then went out to take his bath and on returning, found the deceased in a pool of blood and with knife wounds.
He said the police arrested him because he was a friend of the suspect.
The magistrate, in her ruling said since the accused was being punished for a crime he did not commit, there were no grounds for remand.
The case was subsequently struck out.