By Frank Oshanugor
Exactly one year ago, a budding footballer Stephen Doubra Legbe in his ’20s was reportedly killed in cold blood by a former naval personnel James Olugbenga (a.k.a. King) and one Isiaka Oluwaseun at Victory Estate, Iba Lagos.
In spite of the directive by the Lagos State Director for Public Prosecution (DPP) for the re-arrest and subsequent prosecution of the suspect, operatives of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Panti where the suspects were earlier detained are yet to comply with the other.
In February, 2021 an online magazine SECURITY EXPRESS had exclusively reported that Olugbenga was attending parties in Lagos to the full glare of the police, yet the suspect walks as a free man.
Recent investigation by SECURITY REPORTERS.com has revealed that Olugbenga is going about town as a free man either because police have lost interest in the case or compromised their integrity.
On April 18, 2020 Olugbenga and Oluwaseun had allegedly conspired and murdered Legbe in the night during a vigilante activities. He was said to have had misunderstanding with Olugbenga.
Based on the crime, both suspects were arrested by the police in the Iba area following which they were taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Panti for diligent investigation and prosecution. Authorities of the SCID had in turn after investigation sent the duplicate case file to the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for necessary legal action.
Surprisingly, while the office of the DPP was looking into the case file submitted by the police with a view to advising on a possible prosecution or otherwise, the police at Panti and the Magistrate, Ebute Metta chose to release the principal suspect Olugbenga from detention without any justification.
This breach of the judicial process prompted members of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Lagos led by Comrade Henry Oyobolo to protest peacefully to the Magistrate seeking to ascertain on what basis the principal suspect was released. Legbe was of Ijaw extraction and a member of the IYC.
The DPP in a report dated 2nd June, 2020 and addressed to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, SCID Panti had advised that based on the statement of the two suspects Olugbenga and Oluwaseun including the statements of eye witnesses to the alleged murder, both suspects stood to be prosecuted.
The DPP’s report in part stated “the facts available in the duplicate case file revealed a consistent and non-contradictory eye witnesses accounts respectively that James Olugbenga held on to the deceased and hit him on the head with helmet while a gun was fired at the deceased.
The report had further stated that the “law is trite that when an offence is committed, every person who actually does the act or makes the commission which constitutes the offence or enables or aids or counsels or procures another person to commit the offense are all criminally culpable as principal offenders. This is in line with Section 16 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
The report from the DPP went on to state that “facts further revealed that the deceased was confirmed to have been brought in dead at Alimosho General Hospital, Igando same 18th day of April, 2020 when he was shot.
“It is settled law that where circumstances revealed that the decease had met his death simultaneously with an attack on him with a lethal weapon or so soon thereafter, then medical evidence of his cause of death is not a sine quo non as the court could view the cause of death from the proved circumstances.
“In view of the foregoing, this office (DPP) shall prosecute James Olugbenga and Isiaka Oluwaseun for the offences of conspiring to murder and murder contrary to Sections 233 and 223 respectively of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015 at the High Court.
Ten months after the DPP’s report and advice on the culpability of Olugbenga, Lagos police authorities have not effected the arrest and prosecution of the prime suspect. He has reportedly been walking as a free man, attending social functions, thereby buttressing the boast he was said to have made April 2020 soon after the incident that nothing would happen as he claimed to be connected.
On 30th January, 2021 Olugbenga who had abandoned his Iba residence since April last year, reportedly procured the services of some military personnel attached to OP MESSA, a special unit of the Lagos State anti-crime fighting force to assist him in evacuating his belongings from his residence at Victory Estate, Iba.
Angry youths and friends of the late Stephen Doubra Legbe were said to have confronted the OP MESSA personnel who came with operational vehicle. The angry youth protesters insisted that the suspect would not leave as he is a murder suspect. Arguments had reportedly ensued resulting in the immediate whisking away of the suspect by the security personnel to avoid him bring attacked.
The angry youths were said to have confiscated Olugbenga’s boxes of dress which they allegedly set on fire as the military men shielded him from being harmed.