A High Court in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday sentenced 81-year-old Richard Ogunbayo to 25 years imprisonment for the murder of one Felix Esan.
Justice Lekan Ogunmoye, while delivering his judgement in Ado-Ekiti, said the prosecution could not substantiate evidence of murder against the convict but a case of manslaughter.
The judge, however, sentenced Ogunbayo to 25 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
Ogunbayo, a retired Army colonel, was the head of a Vigilante group at Iyin-Ekiti, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder preferred against him on December 15, 2016.
The prosecutor, Akomolafe Seyi, had told the court that a neighbour, who witnessed when the deceased was shot, reported the matter at the Divisional Police Headquarters in Igede area of Iyin Ekiti.
He said the neighbour, whose name was not provided, told the police that the convict accompanied by some of his colleagues, stormed the deceased home on the allegation that a thief had hidden in the compound.
Seyi told the court that when the convict stormed the compound, he ransacked the compound and found the deceased and four other men in the compound where Esan lived.
The prosecutor said the other four men immediately stood up as a sign of respect for the vigilante group but the deceased sat down.
He said the convict viewed the deceased’s behaviour as rude and disrespectful.
The prosecutor said the convict, who was furious, brought out his Dane gun and shot the deceased while he took the other men to his house and detained them until the early hours of the morning.
He said others raised the alarm of the whereabouts of the deceased and confronted the convict who told them that the deceased relations had taken him away.
“The deceased was later found in a deep pit along Awo-Ekiti Road,” the prosecutor said.
The convict’s counsel, A. T. Lawal, pleaded with the court to tamper justice with mercy, adding that the convict was only discharging his dutiesttp.