Killer of female naval commander to die by hanging
The Kaduna State High Court has sentenced one Bernard Simon to death for the 2019 murder of the Commandant, Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) Secondary School, Jaji, Commander Oluwayemisi Ogundana.
Justice B.F. Zubairu convicted Simon, a teacher, following a nearly three-year trial.
The judge discharged and acquitted the second defendant Mamman Ibrahim of the offence of receiving a Toyota Highlander stolen by Simon from Ogundana.
In a February 7 judgment, a copy of which was obtained by The Nation, Justice Zubairu convicted Simon of culpable homicide and armed robbery.
But, acquitting Ibrahim, the judge held: “In an offence of receiving stolen property, guilty mind plays a vital part. The second defendant (Ibrahim) did not hide the vehicle but rather took it to an Air Force Base and parked same in an open place close o the provost’s office.
“These all go to show that the second defendant had no guilty mind. To say it in another way, the second defendant is a victim of circumstances and he is accordingly discharged and acquitted.”
Concerning Simon, Justice Zubairu held: “The first defendant is not so innocent. The prosecution has discharged the burden placed on it and the first defendant is accordingly found guilty on the two-count charge of culpable homicide and armed robbery.
“I hereby convict you Bernard Simon of the offence of culpable homicide…on the first court charge. I also convict you of the offence of armed robbery.”
The judge called for an allocutus from the convict.
He said: “Do you have anything to say before I pass sentence on you?”
Simon begged the court to temper justice with mercy.
“I am a family man. For the sake of my children, you should pardon me,” the convict said.
Justice Zubairu held: “The convict is hereby sentenced to death for the offence of culpable homicide.
“The convict is also sentenced to death by hanging till he dies for the second offence of armed robbery.”
The naval authorities declared Commander Ogundana missing from her home at No. 24, A.V.M. Jaji on September 09, 2019.
According to court documents seen by The Nation, Simon – armed with a toy pistol and an iron rod – snuck into Ogundana’s home through the outside net, used a spare key to gain access through the back door into her bedroom and waited for her to return from work.
When she arrived between 7 and 8pm, and entered the bedroom, he bashed her on the back of her head with the rod, forced her back into her living and strangled her with a belt.
Simon left with her corpse, Toyota Highlander and other valuables.
Ogundana’s dismembered body, stuffed in a sack, was found by a combined team of the military, police and fire service a few days later in a shallow well close to the Military Cantonment, Jaji.
Simon and Ibrahim were arraigned for the offence by the Kaduna State Government on a three-count charge of “culpable homicide punishable with death, armed robbery and receiving robbed items.”
The offences contravened section 190 of the Penal Code Law of Kaduna State, 2017 and Section 1(2)(a) Robbery and Firearms (RFA) (special provision) Act, 2004 as well as Section 5 RFA (special provision) Act Cap 2004.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty.
Following the commencement of the trial, the prosecution called four witnesses and tendered Simon’s confessional statement and the statement of Ibrahim.
The court heard that after his arrest and following interrogation in 2019, Simon took investigators to the abandoned well at Unguwar Doya, Jaji, Kaduna, where he dumped her corpse and one ladies’ handbag.
It heard that other exhibits including an electric pressing iron, one iron rod and a blood-stained towel with a lady’s camisole were also recovered from Simon.
Witnesses also corroborated Ibrahim’s statement to the court that he had no knowledge of the murder and was merely approached by Simon to help find a buyer for the Toyota Highlander, which the killer claimed was his.