Court rejects plea bargain, jails man 21 years for killing wife

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

Gajo had initially pleaded not guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter during his arraignment and was remanded on June 13, 2013.

The prosecution said the act was contrary to Section 227 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The PUNCH reports that at the resumed hearing on Thursday before Justice Yetunde Adesanya, the prosecution, led by Olayemi Shofolu, informed the court that the defendant had decided to plead guilty to the charge.

He submitted the plea bargain and sentencing agreement signed by the defence counsel and prayed the court to grant the 17 years’ jail term as recommended in the agreement.

The defence counsel, S.N. Nwodo, confirmed the arrangement with the prosecution.

Gajo also confirmed the agreement under oath and told the court that he was not compelled to change his plea for a reduced sentence.

The amended charge was read and he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter contrary to Section 227 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

However, Justice Adesanya said she was not impressed with the plea bargain due to the severity of the crime.

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.

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.”

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