It was a sweet judicial victory yesterday for a 22 year old man, Yusuf Musa, after the Supreme Court discharged and acquitted him of murder.
Musa was initially sentenced to death by hanging by a Jigawa State Hight Court on December 23,2008, when he was only 12 years old.
Although the Court of Appeal sitting in Kaduna quashed the death sentence on June 27,2014, it ordered that Musa be detained.
However,the apex court upturned both judgements yesterday, saying the high court and appeal court should have handled the matter better.
Justice Ejembi Eko, who read the lead judgment prepared by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, said no legal precedent supports the decision of the court of appeal ordering the detention of the appellant at the pleasure of the State governor.
He also said sufficient evidence was not adduced to warrant the conviction and sentencing of a minor to death by hanging.
According to him, the court of appeal had done well to have dismissed the death sentence but was wrong to have ordered the indefinite detention of the appellant.
“The appeal is meritorious and, therefore, the appellant is discharged and acquitted,’’ Justice Eko said.
The appeal court had ordered that the appellant remained in detention at the state governor’s pleasure as the appellant was 12 years at the time of his conviction and sentence by the trial court.
The appellant was arraigned before Justice Ubale Taura for the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death under Section 221 (b) of the Penal Code applicable to the state.
The trial court however activated the full wrath of the law by convicting and sentencing the appellant to death by hanging on Dec. 23, 2008.
The court of appeal however partially upheld the judgment of the trial court by dismissing the death sentence passed on the appellant and ordering his indefinite detention by the governor.
The appellant was accused of doing an illegal act by hitting one Muhammed Hamza on the head and other parts of the body with a stick which led to his death.
Musa (appellant) had however pleaded not guilty to the charges as according to him, his action against the deceased was a self defence and not with intention to kill him.
The appellant had asked the court to determine whether the lower court evaluated the evidence and defence of provocation raised in his extra-judicial statement before affirming the decision of the trial court.
He also asked the court to determine whether from the facts and circumstance of his case the lower court was right in ordering that a minor be detained in prison at the pleasure of the governor.