Posted by By Chioma Okezie- Okeh on
In the past nine years, two prominent elders in Ikorodu, Lagos have been enmeshed in a long drawn legal battle over the ownership of a python allegedly stolen from a bush trap where it was caught.
• Complainant, accused already dead
• Python’s dry head still attends court sittings
• Suit has passed through 8 magistrates
In the past nine years, two prominent elders in Ikorodu, Lagos have been enmeshed in a long drawn legal battle over the ownership of a python allegedly stolen from a bush trap where it was caught. The matter is so serious that though the complainant and one of the accused persons died a little after the commencement of litigation, the parties to the epic python war have decided not to sheath their swords.
It may sound like a fairy tale, but the combatants are up in arms, dragging the ownership of the snake killed nine years back. The complainant, Mr. Muri Adelakun and the accused, Emmanuel Oshodi (74 years old as at 1997) had died only to bequeath the matter to the living for proper justice. Not even the intervention of a traditional ruler could stop them from pursing the case.
Members of their families are bent on pursuing the case to logical conclusion, bringing the head and tail of the python to court regularly as exhibits. Several magistrates have handled the case until it berthed in the court of Chief Magistrate Emeya.
The charge sheet reads
The aging charge sheet reads: That you Chief Emmanuel Oshodi (74), Obafemi Oshinlaja, Ayo Kasali (66), and Albert Oshodi (54), on or before the day of September 1997 at Ire village via Ikorodu in Ikorodu Magisterial district did conspire together to commit felony to wit: stealing and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 516 of the criminal code cap 32 vol. 11 Law of Lagos state of Nigeria, 1994.
And that the group on the 22nd day of September 1997 at about 9.30am at Ire village via Ikorodu in Ikorodu magisterial district did steal a python valued at N10, 000 property of one Godwin Abanu and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 390 (9) of the criminal code cap 32 vol. 11 law of Lagos state of Nigeria, 1994.
Magistrate walks out
As if the python war was not embarrassing enough, the investigation police officer (IPO) Sergeant Akpa on August 23, 2006 drew the ire of the magistrate when he could not described the size of the snake killed in 1997. He mounted the witness stand for cross-examination by the counsel to the accused. The accused persons comprise of four senile men, too feeble to stand.
Mr. K. A. Adebanjo, counsel to the accused in a bid to save these elders from imprisonment, drilled the IPO who had been on the case since then, and may have forgotten details of the incident. Confused and in the heat of anger of giving contradictory information, he lost his cool, compelling the Magistrate who had repeatedly tried to control the IPO, to walk out of the court room in anger. The case was instantly adjourned for hearing till 18th of Sept 2006.
How it started
Narrating the story, the complainant Mr. Godwin Abanu, traced it back to September 1997 his trap set on the land was leased from Chief Muri Adelakun caught some animals. But he claimed it was stolen. “However, with the drops of blood on the floor I was able to trace the track where the animal was taken, and found these elders in possession of a python which they had already butchered and were ready to cook it.”
I accosted them and insisted that the python was mine but they simply said that they found it alive and killed it, and the case was reported to the police.
The other party has stated the python was found and killed by them during a survey of the land. But counsel to the complainant, Barrister Omotubora the IPO confusion would not deter them from pursuing on the basis of evidence. “This is a criminal matter and these men has to be sent to behind bar so that it would serve as a deterrent to others who take things for granted. It looks foolish yet it is true and would be proven in the court. There is no issue of reconciliation and even if it would involve the next generation to come we must ensure that justice is done. Although the complainant is dead, yet as a criminal case, the case must continue.”
On the other hand the counsel to the accused Mr B.A Jagua who said that he would live to see to the speedy discharge and aquittal of the accused. “I do not pray that I loose this case my prayer is that this case would be settled and the complainant would go to the press and apologize to these old men. So that they would enjoy their old age in peace and the soiled name of late Emmanuel Oshodi would be cleared.”
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