- On July 7, 2011, Akolade Arowolo was arraigned before a Yaba magistrates court over murder of his wife, Titilayo on June 24, 2011.
- On December 21, 2011, the case was transferred to the Ikeja High Court, and he was arraigned before Justice Lateefat Okunnu.
He pleaded not guilty to the one-count charge of murder.
The court remanded him at the Ikoyi Prisons, Lagos.
The case was adjourned till January 17, 2013 for substantive trial.
– On January 17, 2012, Arowolo was brought to court but the trial stalled due to absence of the prosecution’s first witness, Mr. George Oyakhire.
- On February 7, 2012, the trial began with the deceased’s father and sister testifying against Akolade.
Mr. George Oyakhire and his daughter, Ijeh, testified that Akolade’s marriage to Titilayo was characterised by violence and abuse.
The couple’s co-tenant, Mr. Adewale Adeyemi, also testified that he heard a loud noise in his apartment.
He claimed that he saw Akolade Arowolo rushing out with a deep cut in his palms after the incident.
The court adjourned the trial till February 20, 2012.
- On February 20, 2012, the prosecution tendered some pieces of evidence relating to the murder which were admitted by the court as exhibits.
They included a kitchen knife used in the murder, four mobile phones and 29 crime-scene photographs taken by the police.
The prosecution called two more witnesses to give evidence.
The fourth witness, Mr Saidu Husseni, a security man at the residence of the Arowolos, admitted that he was in the house on the fateful day.
Speaking in Hausa, Husseni alleged that he saw Akolade washing blood from his hands, while urging him to hurriedly open the gate.
The fifth witness, ASP Titus Ogbonna, from the Homicide Section, CID, Yaba, Lagos, told the court that a N100 note, stained with blood, was recovered from Akolade’s vehicle.
The court adjourned the trial till March 20, 2012.
- On March 20, 2012, Ogbonna continued his testimony by claiming that investigations by the police led to a “convincing” conclusion that Titilayo was murdered by her husband.
Titilayo’s step-mother, Mrs Adetoun Oyakhire, also testified that the deceased was planning to divorce her husband before she was killed.
She said that Akolade had a history of violence with the deceased.
The court also admitted as exhibits, a blood-soaked pair of jeans shorts, a blood-soaked bed sheet, pillow case, hammer, kitchen knife, frying spoon and a spatula.
The blood-soaked N100 note said to have been recovered from the floor of Akolade’s Honda Accord, after his arrest by the police, was also admitted as exhibit.
The court adjourned further trial till March 27, 2012.
- On March 27, 2012, Mrs. Adetoun Oyakhire was cross-examined by defence counsel, Mr. Olanrewaju Ajanaku.
Oyakhire insisted that she had a cordial relationship with the deceased and had counselled her to be a good wife and to always put her marital problems before God.
Another prosecution witness, Mr. Solomon Ailoyen, told the court how Akolade’s car was found in Aswani area of Lagos on the fateful day.
The court adjourned the trial till April 24, 2012.
- On April 24, 2012, the trial was stalled due to the absence of prosecution witnesses.
The DPP apologised to the court for the absence.
The trial was adjourned till April 25, 2012.
- On April 25, 2012, another sister to Titilayo, Miss Folake Oyakhire, told the court how she discovered the lifeless body of her sister after the murder.
The couple’s landlord, Mr. Julius Akinloye, also testified that another tenant told him that he saw Akolade jumping from the balcony of his apartment on the day of the incident.
The court adjourned trial till May 2, 2012
- On May 2, 2012, the 10th prosecution witness, Inspector Gift Nyeche, a forensic photographer with the State CID, Panti, Yaba, was called to testify.
Nyeche told the court how he took some photographs of Akolade Arowolo’s car at the crime scene during an investigation on June 28, 2011.
Tendering of the photographs as exhibits was rejected by the court, which held that they were not accompanied by negatives in line with Section 86(4) of the Evidence Act, 2011.
The matter was adjourned till June 7, 2012, for continuation of trial.
- On June 7, 2012 the court admitted the crime scene photographs as exhibits following the attachment of the negatives.
The matter was adjourned till June 26, 2012.
- On June 26, 2012, Akolade Arowolo slumped in the dock during trial.
He was revived by prison officials and immediately taken outside the court room to take medication.
Two police officers, Inspector Benson Ajie and Sergeant Bayem Cletus, had testified against him during the proceedings.
Ajie, who is of the Homicide Department, State CID, Panti, Yaba, and Cletus, an officer attached to the Aswani Police Station, both claimed that the confessional statements made by Akolade were obtained voluntarily.
The judge adjourned the matter till June 28, 2012, following Akolade’s illness.
- On June 28, 2012, Akolade arrived the courtroom at about 8.45a.m with the assistance of a male prison official, and sat on the gallery with his head resting on a chair.
His lawyer, Mr Olanrewaju Ajanaku, told the court that he was critically ill and could not withstand the rigours of trial.
The court adjourned the matter till Sept.24, 2012.
– On September 24, 2012, Justice Lateefat Okunnu threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against Sgt. Cletus Bayem for failing to appear in court over the case.
The court adjourned further hearing till Sept.28, 2012.
- On September 28, 2012, Sergeant Cletus Bayem appeared in court to conclude his testimony.
The prosecution also called a commercial photographer, Mr. Julius Okolawon, to give evidence.
He told the court that he took seven photographs of Akolade Arowolo’s car at the Aswani Police Station.
The photographs were admitted by the court as exhibits.
The matter was adjourned till October 15, 2012, for continuation of trial.
- On October 15, 2012, a consultant pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, told the court that Titilayo’s body was inflicted with 76 stab wounds.
Obafunwa, the Chief Medical Examiner of Lagos State, said that he conducted both external and internal examination of the body of the deceased during the autopsy.
According to him, the final result of the autopsy revealed that the death was caused by multiple injuries in the chest and abdomen due to multiple sharp wounds and long forced trauma.
The court adjourned the trial till October 22, 2012.
- On October 22, 2012 the trial was stalled following the absence of the representative of the MTN Nigeria Limited., which was subpoenaed, to give evidence in the case.
The matter was adjourned till November 19, 2012.
- On November 19, 2012, Mr. Kingsley Ehebha, a member of staff of MTN Nigeria Ltd. appeared before the court to testify.
Ehebha, a fraud analyst at the company, produced Arowolo’s call records between June 1 and July 26, 2011.
The call logs were admitted by the court as exhibits.
The DPP announced closure of their case against the accused.
The matter was adjourned till November 29, 2012, for Akolade to open his defence.
- On November 29, 2012, the accused father, Mr. Mudasiru Arowolo, opened testimony for the defence, claiming that his son did not murder Titilayo.
He blamed the trouble which rocked the Arowolos’ marriage on undue interference by Titilayo’s father and step-mother. According to him, the deceased had once threatened to kill her husband and herself during a quarrel, which happened when they visited him.
The matter was adjourned till December 4, 2012.
- On December 4, 2012, the trial was stalled due to the absence of the accused mother, Mrs. Bolanle Arowolo.
The defence counsel, Olanrewaju Ajanaku, said she was ill and apologized for her absence.
The matter was adjourned till January 22, 2013.
- On January 22, 2013, Akolade’s mother, Mrs. Bolanle Arowolo, testified on behalf of her son who she described as “God-fearing”.
She said her late daughter-in-law was rude and troublesome, earning her the nickname “Margaret Thatcher”.
The witness also insisted that his son was innocent of the crime.
The court adjourned the trial till January 29, 2013.
- On January 29, 2013, a defence witness, Miss Efe Omordia, called to testify on behalf of Arowolo, described him as a role model.
The witness said she worked with Joy Bringers International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), involved in the counselling and rehabilitation of inmates.
According to her, Akolade has shown exemplary leadership qualities in the prison environment and was a member of the prison’s recreation, reformation and rehabilitation club in Ikoyi Prisons.
Two other witnesses, Miss Eucharia Enofe and Mrs Taiwo Oyetola, also testified on behalf of the defence.
The matter was adjourned till March 28, 2013, for continuation of trial.
- On March 28, 2013, Arowolo entered the witness box and began the narration of his own side of the story.
He told the court that he got married to Titilayo on August 8, 2008, and the family was blessed with a baby girl few months after the marriage.
According to him, ego and immaturity caused several problems between him and his wife and deprived them of marital bliss.
The court adjourned the trial till May 22, 2013.
- On May 22, 2013, Akolade continued his testimony, telling the court that he did not murder Titilayo.
Akolade said his parents in-law were responsible for the trouble in his marriage.
He claimed Titilayo died after accidentally falling on a knife she used to stab him during a quarrel on the day of the incident which was his birthday.
The matter was adjourned till Sept.17, 2013, for adoption of final written addresses.
- On September 17, 2013, the judge adjourned the adoption of the written addresses till October 2, 2013.
She directed the prosecution and defence to file and serve the processes before the next adjourned date.
- On October 2, 2013, the judge imposed a N10,000 fine on Akolade’s counsel, Olanrewaju Ajanaku, for wasting the time of the court.
Okunnu said Ajanaku’s failure to file and regularize the defence processes was a setback to the speedy conclusion of the case.
She adjourned the matter till October 31, 2013.
- October 31, 2013, Okunnu also granted Akolade’s counsel, Mr. Olanrewaju Ajanaku, an extension of time to file his written address.
She adjourned the matter till December 4, 2013.
- On December 4, 2013 both the prosecution and defence adopted their final written addresses.
- On December 19, 2013, parties re-adopted their written addresses. Ogungbesan asked the court to convict Arowolo of the charge.
She argued that the prosecution had proved its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
However, Olanrewaju disagreed with the prosecutor, asking the court to discharge and acquit Arowolo.
Okunnu told parties that date of judgment would be communicated to them.
- On February 21, 2014, the judge found Akolade Arowolo guilty of the murder, and sentenced him to death by hanging.
– FOLUSO SAMUEL