On the 14th day of January, 2017, Madam Oluwatimilehin Olatunde called me to explain something really sad that happened in her area the previous day. From the way and manner she was panting and consistently losing her breathe, I could only imagine how horrific it must have been. She complained that Chief (Mrs) Seunlo Mobigold, a reputable woman and a business tycoon in her area was carrying on her usual trade of jewellery sales across the road when her manfriend, Chief. Amafa Kelu came to visit her. She was standing at the roadside with Chief Amafa Kelu who was having a nice conversation with her when an horrible incident happened. She was was suddenly hit by a Toyota Venza while the driver of the vehicle was trying to avert coalition with an oncoming Nissan Micra. Unfortunately, she died before getting to the hospital while Chief Amafa Kelu’s leg was broken. The man that drove the car is well known in Madam Oluwatimilehin Olatunde’s area and is on good terms with the deceased. He was identified as Mr. Sly Indika and he is the Chief Accounting Officer of Fabregas Oil. He reported himself to the police the same day the horrific incident happened and Chief (Mrs) Seunlo Mobigold was buried the following morning . Madam Oluwatimilehin Olatunde is interested in knowing what will become of the man. ” This man should killed too for such an offence but I doesn’t trust lawyers because they’re too dishonest. The man has money and lawyers can can lie more than Ananais and Saphira on his behalf. Everybody will see that something happened but the lawyers will turn everything and make the suspect will still go scot-free”, she said.
Points to Note:
1. An offence or a crime is defines as any act or omission which is rendered punishable by some legislative enactment. In essence, a wrong must be stated in a written law as an offence and the punishment it attracts before it can be said to be a crime.
2. An offence consist of two elements- physical and mental. The physical element (actus reus) is the guilty act while the mental element (mens rea) is the guilty mind. For example, if a person steals a Nokia 3310, the physical element is the unlawful taking of another person’s phone while the mental element is the intention to steal the Nokia 3310.
3. Before a person can be convicted of an offence, both the physical element (actus reus) and the mental element (mens rea) must be proved. For example, a person who takes another person’s Nokia 3310 thinking it is his own perhaps because he has a very similar one may be exonerated. (The physical element is present but the mental element is absent- There is no intention to steal the phone). Also, a person who has an intention to steal another person’s Nokia 3310 but has not stolen cannot be said to have committed an offence. (The mental element is present but the physical element is not absent- The is no unlawful taking of the phone).
NB: There are exceptions to this rule. The court can convict a person of some guilty act even if there is no guilty mind. For example, if a person kills another without intention.
4. For a person to be convicted of an offence, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the person committed the offence. You want to know why? The Law believes that it is better for 99 Criminals to go scot-free than to punish 1 innocent person. I’m sure some of us must have watched films where the original offender showed up or the truth was ascertained after the innocent person had been killed. How did you feel?
5. Homicide is the killing of a human being by another human being. There is a distinction between lawful and unlawful homicide. For example, soldiers killing a person that has been sentenced to death by hanging is a lawful homicide and it is not an offence.
6. Unlawful homicide is causing the death of another human being in circumstances which are not authorised, justified or excused by law. Unlawful homicide with intention is called MURDER while unlawful homicide without intention is MANSLAUGHTER.
7. The punishment for murder is death while the punishment for manslaughter is life imprisonment.
8. There are DEFENCES open to the suspect; during the trial, the suspect may claim that a certain fact or set facts in the case serve to exonerate him from liability. Example of such defences are accident, insanity, bona fide claim of right, mistake, involuntary intoxication etc. For example; the person that took another person’s NOKIA 3310 thinking it is his own may be discharged and acquitted if he successfully pleads the defence of “Bona fide claim of right”.
9. Although there are new developments under the law, the victim gets no remedy under criminal law except that the accused person is punished. However, the victim can bring a separate civil action to claim remedy.
It’s such an unfortunate incident but Madam Olatunde has to understand that Mr. Sly Indika may be convicted of the offence of manslaughter for unintentionally killing Chief (Mrs) Seunlo Mobigold. However, if he successfully pleads the defence of “accident”, he will not be found guilty. For example, if Mr. Sly Indika is able to successfully show the court that his brake failed and the situation was beyond his control, he may be discharged and acquitted.
Chief Amafa Kelu on his own can bring a civil action to claim damages for the loss of his Leg.
MY LEGAL DIARY
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede