AN Osun State High Court has sentenced the owner of Hilton Honours Hotel, Ile-Ife, Ramon Adedoyin, to death by hanging over the murder of a post-graduate student Timothy Adegoke.
Adedoyin is also the founder of Oduduwa University, Ile-Ife.
The death sentence was passed on Adedoyin after Osun State Chief Judge Adepele Ojo convicted him for the murder on Tuesday, May 30.
Adegoke, a post-graduate student of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, was declared missing after lodging in the Hilton Honours Hotel in November 2021.
His body was later found in a shallow grave along Old Ede Road in the town by the Police, and it was later discovered that he was killed at the hotel.
Following the discovery, Adedoyin and his workers were docked on 18 counts bordering on murder, conspiracy, and oath of secrecy, among others.
During the last proceedings of the court on April 27, where all parties in the suit adopted their written addresses, the prosecuting counsel, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had insisted before the court that the deceased was killed and his body dumped in the bush.
He added that those involved in the incident attempted to obliterate the act and took an oath of secrecy to conceal the crime.
However, counsel to Adedoyin, Yusuf Alli, (SAN), asked the court to discharge and acquit Adedoyin, saying no evidence linked him to the murder.
He said the only connection Adedoyin had with the matter was simply because he owned the hotel where the said death occurred.
Also, counsel to the 2nd, 4th and 5th defendants accused alongside Adedoyin, Abdulrasheed Muritala, (SAN), said there was no direct evidence linking his clients to the murder.
According to him, the entire case was based on suspicion. Hence, he urged the court to discharge his clients of the charges against them.
Similarly, the other defendants’ lawyers urged the court to discharge their clients because the evidence against them was based on speculation.
The defence lawyers had told the court that the evidence before it was based on circumstantial evidence, which was not enough to convict the defendants.
They argued that the prosecution failed to establish a link between the defendants and the alleged crime.
They urged the court to discharge and acquit the defendants.
In her judgment on Tuesday, the trial judge, Ojo, held that the circumstantial evidence available to the court pointed to the killing of Adegoke while he was a guest at the hotel owned by Adedoyin.
She stated that Adedoyin’s decision not to enter the witness box did not help him, as the circumstantial evidence had shifted the burden of proof on him.
The judge added that Adedoyin’s refusal to testify meant he agreed to the murder charge brought against him by the prosecution, dismissing the alibi pleaded on his behalf by his counsel, who stated that the hotel owner was in Abuja for several days around the time of the late Adegoke’s death.
In addition to Adedoyin, Adeniyi Aderogba, and Oyetunde Kazeem, two other employees working at the hotel were also condemned to death for the murder.
Meanwhile, three other defendants in the case, namely Magdalene Chiefuna, Lawrence Oluwole, and Adedji Adesola, were acquitted and discharged of the various charges brought against them by the prosecution.
The court concluded that the crimes they were accused of did not align with the evidence presented by the prosecution.
An autopsy report had linked Adegoke’s death to intense haemorrhage (bleeding) due to ‘severe traumatic injuries’.
Although the autopsy could not pin down the actual cause of his death because of his body’s ‘advanced decomposition’ before the inquest was done, the pathologist said there was no natural disease in the deceased’s body to cause or accelerate death or to cause him to collapse (and die).
Adegoke was buried amid tears in January 2022.