ABUJA – Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Inagozie Igochukwu Godwin, who allegedly shot and killed Miss Anita Akapson, a niece to Senator Nenadi Usman, a former Minister of Finance, was on Friday arraigned at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Zuba. Godwin is Ikwerre by tribe, and lives in Dutse, Abuja.
In a criminal charge filed by the Commissioner of Police against DSP Inagozie Godwin, aged 36, it was stated that Anita Akapson, 31, was shot to death on October 13, 2018 at about 9:45pm, at Katampe area of Abuja.
The one-count charge, which the prosecutor said was a criminal offence, to wit culpable homicide ran contrary to section 22(3) of the penal code and punishable under section 22(4) of the same code.
After the charge was read to the accused cop, he pleaded not guilty.
Consequently, Donatus Abah, the prosecutor requested for a date for commencement of trial of the accused police officer.
However, counsel to the defendant, Paul Samson informed the court of his client’s bail application, dated October 30, and filed same day.
After taking submissions by both counsel on the bail application, the presiding judge, Justice A. O Ebong admitted the accused on bail in the sum of N50million with two sureties.
Justice Ebong said he was minded to grant the defendant bail because the police prosecutor failed to advance cogent reasons under the law why bail should not be granted to the DSP.
The court noted that the offence was a culpable homicide, not punishable by death, but carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Whereas the defence counsel relied on Section 162 of ACJA to persuade the court to grant the accused bail, however, Justice Ebong said, that section in particular applies in offences that carry not more than 3 years sentence.
According to the court, all the factors that would have swayed the pendulum in favour of the prosecutor were not mentioned as he opposed the bail application.
Justice Ebong stated that he did not grant the accused bail based on the submissions made by the defence counsel with respect to the ill health of the cop, but because the prosecutor did not controvert the depositions contained in the affidavit of the defence counsel.
More so, the court agreed with the defence counsel that an accused is pressumed innocent until proven otherwise.
Meanwhile, as part of the bail conditions, the court directed that two of the sureties must be serving public servants who should not be below the position of Directors.
The court stated that the sureties must be resident in their personal houses and must equally swear an affidavit of means.
Justice Ebong further ordered that the accused must not travel without leave of court, and must live within the jurisdiction of the court in order to attend trial.
In addition, the court ordered the defendant to deposit his international passport and other relevant travel documents to the registrar of the court.
More so, Justice Ebong stated that the identities and particulars of the sureties shall be verified by court authority.
Lastly, the court ordered that the accused be remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of the bail conditions.
Earlier, Samson brought the motion on notice (bail application) pursuant to sections 35, 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, as well as sections 161, 162 and 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
Moving the bail application, the defendant’s counsel placed reliance on paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 of the affidavit in support of the bail application, to the effect that the trigger-happy cop has an unstable health.
Also, Samson told the court that he had filed a 5-paragraph affidavit of urgency, with exhibits A, B, C and D, attached.
The defence counsel disclosed that exhibit “A” was a medical report from National Hospital, exhibit “B”, a travel visa; exhibit “C”, a certificate of clearance for the accused police to travel for medical treatment; and exhibit “D”, a medical report that the defendant has a sickness.
Arguing his bail application, the accused person’s lawyer insisted that by section 22(4), “The offence is not a capital offence”.
He submitted that the applicant is pressumed innocent unless the contrary is proven just as he posited that in accordance with section 161(2) of ACJA, “granting of bail is at the discretion of the court”.
In trying to persuade the court to grant bail to the embattled DSP, Samson stressed that the accused has a “peculiar illness and that can only be treated by a specialist.
Besides, the defence counsel noted that the averrement that DSP Inadozie Godwin was critically ill was not controverted by the prosecution counsel, “which in law, means that the averrement are true”.
He drew the attention of the court that it is only the living that stands trial, and therefore, pleaded that the DSP be allowed to travel for medical treatment.
In his reaction, human rights activist and constitutional lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, kicked against the bail granted the defendant.
He accused the prosecutor for “displaying inherent conspiracy and a clear attempt to shield one of their own”.
According to Ajulo, who also represented in court as a family lawyer to Senator Nenadi Unman’s, “the issues canvassed and argued in the counter- affidavit of the prosecution were so watery, porous and riddled with incompetence that one can only wonder if the lawyer went through the four walls of Nigeria Law School”.
“Today, the case of the gruesome murder of Miss Anita Akapson, which came up before the FCT High Court makes the heart of a reasonable man bleed, leaving so much to be desired of a legal practitioner.
“Upon arraignment, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge and his counsel presented his motion for bail.
“The Prosecution also pretentiously presented his 8-paragraph counter-affidavit with merely 3 substantial paragraphs.
“As of fact, the presiding judge opined that bail was only granted to the defendant because the prosecution’s counsel failed to be diligent in his assignment.
“Considering the very nature of this case being one of the very many cases of Police violation of citizen’s fundamental rights leading to loss of life of a bright young lady, it was expected that the office of the Attorney General as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation would have sprung into action, issue an advice and taken over the matter rather than permit the Police to assist one of their own.
“The experience of today in court is indeed embarrassing, scandalous and leaves much to be desired.
“The act of the Police prosecutor in trying to hide under the cloak of the law, display lack of diligence and incompetence is tantamount to gross misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner which we shall take up before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee.
“I dare say that the system of prosecution in Nigeria needs to be overhauled and reconsidered, particularly the investigative procedures of the Nigerian Police” Ajulo stated.