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Alleged theft: Court discharges, acquits former UNIBEN CSO

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A Benin High Court has dismissed an appeal lodged against the acquittal of a former chief security officer of the University of Benin, Col. Umar Otokiti (rtd) as lacking in merit.

Justice J .I. Acha while delivering the judgment in the appeal filled against the acquittal of Col. Otokiti and Mr Osaro Osayande, the operation officer in security department of University of Benin, the court ruled that the judgment of the chief magistrate, Ekiadolor division, which discharged and acquitted the UNIBEN security operatives was in order.

Col. Otokiti (rtd) a former CSO of the university of Benin and Mr Osaro Osayande of the same department were charged before the Ekiadolor magistrate court on December 23, 2015 on a three count charges of conspiracy, breaking and stealing the property of Dr. Emmanuel Irabor , a lecturer in the Chemistry department of the university of Benin.

Dr. Irabor who was ejected from his official residence in 2014 on the order of the management of the school, obtained a fiat from the then Attorney General of Edo state to prosecute Col. Otokiti and Mr Osaro Osayande, claiming that they broke into his residence and made away with his hold property and certificates worth over N27 million.

Dr Irabor who prosecuted his suit through his lawyer, Mr M.O. Iguodala testified at the trial and called two witnesses.

In their defence conducted by their counsel, Samuel Abaslim, Esq, Col. Umar Otokiti and Mr Osaro Osayande testified for themselves and called no witness.

In her judgement, chief magistrate F.I. Oghoator after a careful evaluation of the evidence at the trial, discharged and acquitted the two of them on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove any of the three charges.

On appeal at the Benin high court presided over by Hon justice J.I. Acha, counsel to Dr Irabor, M.o. Iguodala urged the court to set aside the judgment of the magistrate court.

In his judgement, Justice Acha , while considering all issues raised in the appeal, ruled that the contention of the appellant that the trial magistrate handled the case without warrant, having been transferred to another judicial division was speculative as the principle of the law has not deviated that “he who asserts must prove “.

He stated that courts are not expected to act on speculation but on empirical evidence to substantiate any claim by any party.

Justice Acha further held that the trial magistrate properly evaluated the evidence adduced at the trial and consequently affirmed its judgement in acquitting the two respondents, Col. Umar Otokiti and Mr Osaro Osayande.

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