There is rife anxieties over legal processes and technicalities in the case of the houseboy who murdered a grandmother and her pregnant daughter barely 24 hours after he was employed on June 18, 2019.
Forty days after 28-year-old Joseph Ogbu butchered the 38-year-old expectant mother, Oreoluwa John and her 89-year-old mum, Mrs Adejoke John, in their Lagos home at 4, Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, prosecutors are still waiting for the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The Investigating Police Officer from the State Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Inspector Yahaya and members of the victims’ family with their friends were all at the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Ebute Metta, Lagos, where the police had earlier secured a remand order to further the course of justice today, but the suspect could not appear because of the awaited DPP advice.
When the case was called, Chief Magistrate O.A. Olagbende, who made it known that murder cases cannot be handled in her court, drew attention to some elements in the legal process that could let the suspected serial killer out on bail after 60 days.
According to Mrs Olagbende, the remand order secured by the police could only hold the murder suspect for 30 days and then renewed for another 30 days after which he could be granted bail.
Besides, Judges are on vacation and magistrates are going on retreat in September, a length of time by which the 60 days would have elapsed.
She said, “They haven’t brought the case file. When the DPP’s office looks into the file, they will now write an information before they issue the advice.
“This is a murder case that can get death penalty. I can’t do death penalty.”
The victims, Oreoluwa and Mrs Adejoke John
Expressing concerns over technicalities that could force the court to release the suspected criminal, Mrs Olagbende said, “Section 264 is very clear. We can only hold them down for 60 days. If the police do not come and give me further reason to hold him, I have to release him. The Law says 30 days and they have to convince me to give another 30 days before they arraign him.”
She sympathized with the family but stressed that the technicality in Law could let the criminal out on bail.
She described the crime as a “horrible experience”, as she told the family: “I can’t even imagine what you are going through.”
Mrs Olagbende later adjourned the matter till October 24, 2019, for mention.
It was learnt that murder of his employers has been the stock in trade of the houseboy, who police investigators have found to have committed similar crimes in some parts of Lagos during which he allegedly set the house on fire to destroy all evidence and make the incident look like an accident.
It was also gathered that on one occasion, he was arrested and handed over to the police but he escaped from custody only to commit another murder.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of SCIID Panti, Mrs Yetunde Longe, had expressly concluded investigations, charged the case to court and secured an order from the Chief Magistrate’s Court on June 27, 2019, to remand the suspect in Ikoyi Prisons till today.
The order reads in part: “You the Police Officers are hereby commanded to convey the Defendant to the said Prison, and there to deliver him to the Superintendent thereof, together with this warrant and you, the Superintendent of the said Prison to receive him into your custody, and keep him until the 30th day of July 2019 and on that day you the said Police Officer or you the Superintendent are hereby commanded to convey him before the High/Magistrate’s Court of the L/S…”