Man Sentenced To 21-years Imprisonment For Stabbing Wife To Death In Lagos

The Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square has sentenced Daniel Gajo to 21 years in prison for stabbing his 24-year-old wife, Esther, to death.

On June 13, 2013, Gajo was remanded after entering an initial not guilty plea to one count of involuntary manslaughter at his arraignment.

The prosecution said that the conduct violated Section 227 of the Lagos State Criminal Code of 2015.

At the resumption of the hearing before Justice Yetunde Adesanya on Thursday, the prosecution, headed by Olayemi Shofetu, told the court that the defendant had opted to enter a guilty plea.

He presented the written plea bargain and sentencing agreement and asked the judge to impose the 17-year prison sentence indicated in the agreement.

S.N. Nwodo, the defense attorney, confirmed the agreement with the prosecution.

Gajo also confirmed the deal under oath and said that he was not pressured to modify his plea in exchange for a lesser sentence.

He pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter pursuant to Section 227 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015, after the new charge was read.

As a result of the gravity of the offence, however, Justice Adesanya was not impressed with the plea agreement.

She said, “The defendant took his wife’s life in her mother’s home. I am not bound by the sentencing agreement and can decide to increase the years. No one has the right to take another person’s life.”

Passing her judgment, the judge said the recommended sentence was not commensurate to the crime committed by the defendant.

She noted that the crime was “unprovoked and premeditated.”

Adesanya said, “I have taken into account the statements of the parties. I also recognise that the court is not bound to accept the sentencing agreement. In view of this, I hereby convict you, Daniel Gajo, as charged. Having regard to all considerations, this court rejects the 17 years sentencing agreement. I hereby sentence you, Daniel Gajo, to 21 years in prison starting from the day of your remand, June 13, 2013.”

Judgements premised on plea bargain agreements have resulted in controversies in the country’s legal system.

In September 2021, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Special Offences Court also sentenced a 23-year-old chef, Joshua Usulor, to 28 years’ imprisonment for killing a 34-year-old lawyer, Mrs Feyisayo Obot, in a hotel room in Lagos on January 26, 2019.

Usulor had entered a plea bargain agreement with the prosecution and a 21-year sentence was recommended.

However, the judge rejected the agreement, saying it was too lenient and sentenced the convict to 28 years in prison.

Despite the increase in the jail term, many observers said the sentence was light and called for tougher punishments for capital offences to serve as deterrent to others.

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