“The sentence of this court upon you, Olalekan Hameed, is that you be hanged by the neck until you be pronounced dead and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul. This is the virtual judgement of the court.”
Those were words signalling the conviction of a driver, Olalekan Hameed, to death by hanging for murder of Mrs. Jolasun Okunsanya, the mother of his employer, Adetayo on December 1, 2018.
Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja High Court, in a virtual court session delivered this maiden judgement via a video conferencing app called Zoom.
The virtual court sessions were approved by Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba, in line with the Lagos State Judiciary Remote Hearing of Cases COVID-19 Pandemic Period Practice Direction.
Participants who tied in to the virtual court proceeding were the Lagos State Chief judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba, the defendant, his defence counsel, the prosecution team led by Lagos State Solicitor-General Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey and witnesses who participated in the session remotely from different locations via the Zoom app.
Hameed was arraigned on March 6, 2019 on a two-count charge of murder and stealing, though he denied the charge following which trial commenced.
But the police said the convict committed the offences at about 12:30pm at plot 83, Owukori Crescent, Estate, Surulere, Lagos.
However, the prosecution called several witnesses and tendered exhibits including the coroner’s report, stolen N97,500 and $117 recovered from him and his confessional statement, among others.
Delivering her judgement, Justice Dada noted that prosecution witnesses testified that Hameed was the only one with the deceased at the time of death and he was also seen scaling the fence of the deceased’s building afterwards, among others, were not disproved.
Leading members of the judiciary and Ministry of Justice also participated in the proceedings virtually.
The presiding judge conducted proceedings from High Court 10, Ikeja, the defendant Hameed was at Ikoyi Correctional Center, while the counsel were at different locations.
Judicial officers connected to the proceeding include Justice Alogba, Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, Justice Josephine Oyefeso, Justice Sherifat Solebo, Justice Afeez Dabiri, Justice Roli Harriman, amongst others.
While participants from the bar included the State’s Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, the prosecutor, Ms. Shitta-Bey, and some senior lawyers like Funke Adekoya SAN, Tayo Oyetibo SAN, Olukayode Enitan SAN, amongst others.