A 23-year-old chef on Tuesday entered a plea bargain, pleaded guilty to murder and escaped the hangman’s noose.
Instead, an Ikeja Special Offences Court sentenced a 23-year-old chef, Joshua Usulor, to 28 years imprisonment for killing a 34-year-old lawyer, Mrs Feyisayo Obot.
According to the prosecution, the chef killed the lawyer on 26th January 2019, at the Citiheights Hotel, Opebi, Lagos, where both of them lodged in different rooms.
It is reported that Usulor while looking for a way to offset his outstanding hotel bills, chose to rob Obot, an Abuja-based mother of two, murdered her by slitting her throat.
During the trial, Usulor approached the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) for a plea bargain agreement in which he would plead guilty to the crime.
The DPP had in the agreement, approved a term of 21 years imprisonment which would begin from the date of Usulor’s remand.
However, during Tuesday’s proceedings, the judge rejected the proposed prison term, saying that it was too lenient.
The judge said she would exercise the power conferred on her by Section 75 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law to increase the prison term to 30 years.
She eventually reduced Usulor’s prison sentence to 28 years, following allocutus (plea for leniency) by his counsel, Mr Spurgeon Ataene.
In the allocutus, Ataene told the court to temper justice with mercy.
He submitted that Usulor was remorseful, adding that he was a young man with a promising future.
While sentencing Usulor, Taiwo asked why he killed the lawyer.
“It was a mistake, I didn’t know what got into me,” he responded.
“Your mistake has cost someone her life,” the judge said.
The prosecution led by Mrs O.A. Bajulaiye-Bishi had said that Usulor, a resident of No. 30, Fadiya St., Ketu, Lagos, went into Obot’s hotel room to rob her in order to offset his outstanding hotel bills.
Obot, an employee of an Abuja-based non-governmental organisation – Save the Children – was in Lagos to write a project management examination.
She was killed on the day she was due to check-out of the hotel.
The prosecution was still presenting witnesses in the case when Usulor proposed a plea bargain agreement.
Prosecution witnesses who testified so far are – the hotel receptionist, Ms Lateefat Adebayo; the hotel Operations Manager, Mr Olabanji Ibitunde; brother of the deceased, Mr Ige Afolabi; and the Investigating Police Officer, Insp John Babalola.
Usulor was arraigned on a count charge of murder contrary to Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2015.
The law prescribes a death sentence for any individual found guilty of murder. (with NAN reports)