Story by Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
More controversy has continued to trail the Legal Advised issued by the former Director of Public Prosecution, DPP in Lagos State , Ms. T. K. Shitta-Bey, now a permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Lagos State wherein she issued a Legal Advice that a deceased, who was discharged on August 24, 2017, died on August 5, 2017.
But in a bid to amend the floors in the Legal Advice, the man who took over from her as DPP, Dr. Martins has changed Shitta-Bey’s ‘Last Seen’ Of Dead from 2017 To 2018 stating that the former advice issues by Ms. T. K. Shitta-Bey, is ladden with typographical errors on date.
However, the complaint in the case of murder,Mr. Remi Louis, through his lawyer, Mr Isaac Adiatu of Newlife Chambers has said that attempts by the new DPP to mid – way change the floors noticed in the Legal Advice issued by his predecessor, Ms T.K Shitta- Bey was an ploy to cover up the case of murder and professional misconduct against Defendants in the case.
It would be recalled that the police has sent the case file in a murder case in a charge between Commissioner of Police vs Otunba Olusegun Ashogbon and six others, to DPP office for legal advice.
The complainant, particularly accused the new DPP, Dr. Babajide Martins of changing a Legal Advice issued by his predecessor, Ms. T. K. Shitta-Bey, now a Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, on the ‘last seen’ of the deceased from 2017 to 2018.
In the advice issued by Shitta-Bey, the deceased was said to have been discharged from Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) on August 24, 2017, with the instruction for oncology clinic for further treatment, but died on August 5, 2017.
The latest Legal Advice issued by Dr. Martins claimed that the deceased was discharged on August 4, 2018 and died on August 5, 2018 Martins claimed that the date stated on the advice issued by Shitta-Bey was ‘typographical error’, which should be ignored.
Shitta-Bay’s Legal Advice, with reference number LJP/HOM/2018,161, dated January 31, 2019, captioned ‘Legal Advice, Commissioner of Police Vs Otunba Olusegun Ashogbon and Others, CR/12/2018’, had stated that the deceased received treatment at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) after being buried. Shitta-Bey now a Solicitor-General/ Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Lagos State, stated in a copy of the Certified True Copy (CTC) issued in respect of criminal charge filed by men of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (Force CID), against Otunba Ashogbon also known as Titilayo Oladimeji and others charged with Ashogbon are: Alhaja Midinat Olayemisi, Dr. Ibrahim Idris, Sekinat Adedeji, Dr. Ayoade Adedokun and Dr. Nasiru Akamu.
The police had sought DPP’s advice on the charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, forgery and stealing against all the defendants mentioned above, through a letter with reference number CB:4099/X/HCD/TE/Vol.1/99, dated August 16, 2018.
However, a legal advice issued and signed by Shitta-Bey on January 31, 2019, while absolving all the defendants of the allegations, stated that the deceased, Mrs. Abolore Remi-Louis, was admitted on July 8, 2017, at the Lagos State Teaching University Hospital (LASUTH) for difficulty in breathing as a result of breast cancer which was advanced, terminal and metastatic to the lungs.
Shitta-Bey stated further that the deceased was discharged on August 24, 2017, with the instruction for oncology clinic for further treatment. Adding that the deceased died August 5, 2017 and that the cause of death should be attributed to the acute respiratory arrest.
The advice reads in part: “after carefully consideration of the facts as contained in the duplicate case file, this office is of the considered opinion that there are insufficient facts to establish a prima facie case of conspiracy to commit Murder, Murder, Forgery and stealing contrary to Sections 233, 223, 365 (1) and 287, respectively, Criminal Law Cap.C17, Vol. 3. Laws of Lagos State 2015 against Page B1, (Otunba Olusegun Ashogbon), Page 2 (Titilayo Oladimeji), Page 3 (Alhaja Modinat Olayemisi ), Page B4 (Dr. Ibrahim Adedeji), Page B6 (Dr. Ayoade Adedokun), Page 7 (Dr. Nasiru Akanmu), respectively.
“Facts available in the duplicate case file reveal that the deceased One Abolore Abiola Louis was admitted on 8/7/2017 at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, (LASUTH), Lagos for difficulty in breathing as a result of breast cancer which was advanced, terminal and metastatic to the lungs. She was discharged on 24th August, 2017 with instruction for Oncology Clinic for further treatment.
However, the deceased died on 5th August, 2017, and the cause of death was attributed to acute Cardio Respiratory arrest.
“It is trite law that evidence in proof of an Offence of Murder must be credible and sufficiently linked the defendant and no one else to the death of the deceased. Please see Okon Edoho Vs The State (2010) 3-5 SC PT 1 PG 127.
“There is no direct or circumstantial evidence to establish that the suspects by their acts or omissions caused the death of the deceased”.
Upon enquiry by the complainant’s lawyer, Mr. Isaac Adiatu of Newlife Chambers, in a petition dated August 7, 2019, for total and thorough review of the the legal advice on the ground of misrepresentation of facts and miscarriage of Justices, it was alleged that the DPP advice contained fictitious name of murder suspects.
Isaac also accused the DPP of what he called ‘construction of defence’, for the alleged murder suspects and subtle threat to cover-up professional misconduct.
In response to Adiatu’s enquiry, Dr. Martins, in a letter dated September 2, 2019 stated: “after a careful perusal of the facts of the case and our initial Legal Advice dated 31st January 2019, vis a vis your application letter, this Office maintains the position that there are insufficient facts to establish a prima facie case of Conspiracy to Commit Murder, Murder, Forgery and Stealing against the Page Bl (Otunba Olusegun Ashogbon), Page 32 (Titilayo Oladimeji), Page B3 (Alhaja Modinat Qlayemisi), Page B4 (Dr. Ibrahim Adedeji), Page BS [Sekinat Adedeji), Page B6 (Dr. Ayoade Adedokun) and Page B7 (Dr. Nasiru Akamu).‘
“The allegations in your application bothers on a few typographical errors in the Legal Advice. The Deceased was discharged on the 4th of August 2018 and died the next day on the 5th of August.
The initial date of 24th should therefore be discountenanced. Also the allegation on Page 3 on your application that your Client was referring to one Alhaji Modinat Olayemisi Oluesan and not Alhaja Modinat Olayemisi does not go to the substance of the issue. ”
With regard to Forgery and the cause of death, there is nothing to suggest that the Death Certificate was forged or that the cause of death was fabricated.
The Deceased was an oncology patient and acute cardiac arrest can resultant from that. There is also nothing to show that the deceased did not receive the reasonable amount of care expected before she died. Furthermore, there is no autopsy to contradict these allegations.
Please note that this Office maintains its position as indicated in the Final Legal Advice Issued on the 31st of January, 2019″.
Responding to the DPP’s Martins reply, the complainant, through his counsel, Mr. Adiatu, maintained that “Obvious Homicide have been committed by some people being covered up in the DPP, Ministry of Justice, Lagos State with respect to our client’s case, going by the global theory of “last seen .
An accessory does not lead, but follows its principal. The impunity is one in million. He who affirms must prove.
“The audacious finality contained in the last paragraph of the reply notwithstanding, our client is aware that the FCIID Alagbon Annex, Lagos have done the needful by forwarding a comprehensive case File to including all relevant documents therein to the DPP in response to our client’s petition to the IGP.
Therefore, we hope that the DPP will do same based on the corrections presumed to have been made by the police, having hoped that the new Case File would be merged and submitted back to the Police after a total, thorough and comprehensive Legal Advice”.
Louis, through his counsel, in a rejoinder for a thorough review has insisted that it all amounts to “attempts to defend the indefensible”:
“Legal Advice, expectedly, on allegation of murder offence e tal, referred to DPP should not be be regarded as a game of skill where best performance wins. “Integrity and competency are central to the quality of Legal Advice and any other document the DPP, Ministry of Justice in Lagos State “, two (2) now three (3) inconsistencies claims cannot all be correct from the same DPP”.
“We refuse to accept typographical errors in that context of the feeble excuse being canvassed because the Legal Advice contains conscious and standard constructed sentences dully signed by a Director, (who our client was aware used to have reputation, which explained why our client sought to meet with her along with our client’s counsel, but cleverly prevented our client from meeting with her) “Dr. Babajide Martins has descended to the arena of the dispute as a party, and also doubles both as a lawyer and a Medical Doctor.
A reasonable man like our client, as complainant often wonders what is going on at the DPP Office in the Ministry of Justice Lagos State”. Below are the correspondences between the complaint’s counsel and the DPPs