In the hot afternoon of 25th July, 2005 Lt. Felix Olanrewaju Odunlami, a commissioned officer of Nigerian Navy was said to be driving his fancy car from Lagos State Secretariat at Alausa in Ikeja to Apapa.
At the Allen Avenue Roundabout, the insignificant incidence that later made the news headline struck.. One Mr. Peter Edeh a motorcyclist (Okada man) hit the aforementioned Military officer’s car from rear with his motorcycle.
Upon realising that the owner of the car was military personnel, Edeh was said to have gone on his knee to appraise the offended Lt. Odunlami (Oga at the top) for forgiveness.
However, Odunlami who was deeply infuriated, ignored Edeh’s plea, reached for his pistol from its holster and shot the deceased in his mouth thereby resulting to his instant death. The tragedy struck!
Enraged by the hard-hearted action of the Naval Officer, passers-by were said to have pounced on him immediately and burnt his car. It took the quick intervention of the police to rescue him from the mob which insisted that he ought to die too. Trust Nigerian masses for mob action and jungle justice. It is most unfortunate!
On 27th January 2006, the said Lieutenant Odunlami, with Force Number: NN 2121 was arraigned before a General Court Martial on a 3 Count Charge, for the offences of manslaughter, loss of service item (for not being able to convincingly account for 4 rounds of 9mm live ammunition) and Conduct to the prejudice of service discipline contrary to Sections 68(1)(a), 103(i) AFA 105 and 106 of the Armed Forces Act Cap A 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
He was subsequently found guilty and convicted on counts 1 & 2; subsequently he was sentenced to life imprisonment for manslaughter and dismissed him from service on count 2.
“The confirming authority” indeed confirmed the sentence of life imprisonment and dismissal from service of the Nigerian Navy. It further stripped the appellant of his rank and directed that he was not entitled to any financial entitlements.
Being dissatisfied with the above verdict, the convicted Naval Officer appealed to the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, Lagos Division. In its judgment delivered of 31st January 2011, the Appellate court upheld the decision of the trail Court Martial and dismissed Odunlami’s appeal, a decision that led him to approach the apex court.
Meanwhile, upholding the decisions of the two lower courts, the Supreme Court of Nigeria on 7th June 2013, held in the lead judgment by His Lordship, Hon. Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour that the appellant’s defence of provocation could not avail him in view of the glaring facts of the case.
The Supreme Court further affirmed the dismissal of the Convict/Appellant from the Nigerian Navy as earlier decided by the General Court Martial and the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.
The court equally held that the trial court could not exercise its discretion to give a lower sentence because under Section 105 of the Armed Forces Act, (under which he was charged) “the trial judge has no discretion, but to sentence the appellant to life imprisonment.
1. Act less and/or keep mute when you’re angry, for an angry man is a mad man.
2. Value human life; under no circumstance can you take a (human) life that you can’t create.
3. Don’t be power drunk, remember all powers belong to God (the All-Knowing).
4. The car model and type being protected then sure is a taxi now or off the road completely. This is to say, nothing reigns or lasts too long or forever. The same fine officer if offered same car today (assuming the event didn’t happen) surely would be ungrateful for it even as a gift. How times change values. He would have become a Lt. Col.equivalent (Navy Captain) by normal promotion. He has also lost his freedom as a human being after such rigorous and risky military training.
5. Let’s focus on training our children who have shown tendencies of quickness to anger. Anger is not of God.