Ex-lawmaker Folaranmi sees red in court, found guilty of 4-count charge

Ex-lawmaker Folaranmi sees red in court, found guilty of 4-count charge




An Oyo State Chief Magistrate’s Court sitting in Ogbomoso has sentenced an ex-lawmaker,, Hon Oyebamiji Folaranmi, to one year and four months imprisonment for being found guilty of offences of conspiracy, false publication, forgery, and threat to murder of an Oko Town High Chief and his households, as well as, conduct likely to cause breach of public peace.


Chief Magistrate Muideen Salami, however, granted the convict a fine of N500,000 in lieu of the sentence. In his 1 hour 30 minutes judgment, he sentenced the Folaranmi, who represented Surulere/Ogo-Oluwa federal constituency to six months imprisonment on the count of conspiracy with the option of N150,000; three months for count 2 of false publication/defamation with a fine of N150,000; six months for the offence of forgery with the option of fine of N100,000; and one month for the offence of threat to murder with a fine of N100,000. The sentence was to run concurrently, the Chief Magistrate ordered.


The former House of Representatives member had been arraigned in 2021 by the Oyo State Police Command along with a 94-year-old Oko Town traditional title holder, Mathew Wojuade Ademola, and five others including Wojuade Gbemiga, Wojuade Philip, Bello Semiu Opeyemi, Eyolade Joshua Adewumi and Adeniyi Idowu. They were charged with alleged conspiracy to murder High Chief Solomon Ojedayo in Oko Town, a suburb of Ogbomoso.


While the prosecutor, Mr M.A. Ojei, represented the Commissioner of Police in the charge marked MOG/190c/2021, Dr. Olutayo Oyewale held the brief for the complainant, while Prince Niran Oyekale represented the defendants.


After the prosecution had called five witnesses against the defendants, the six other defendants except Folaranmi informed the court on December 22, 2023, through Dr. Tayo Oyewale, that they had deposed to separate affidavits in Ibadan High Court Registry in which they had settled with the complainant, High Chief Solomon Ojedayo. Their names were therefore struck out from the charge, leaving Folaranmi to open his defence to the charge brought against him.


At the conclusion of the trial and submission of written addresses by both Ojei and Ojekale, the court on Thursday reviewed the case and found Folaranmi guilty of all the counts.


He had given an alibi during the trial that at the material time he was said to have committed the offences, he was involved in an accident and was admitted at the UCH, Ibadan on 17th December 2019 and discharged on January 18, 2020, before returning to Oko on the 27th June 2020. He however said that he did not disclose this information to the Police in Ibadan and Zone 11, Osogbo, because he was not asked such question.


The court discountenanced the claim of alibi saying that he only imported such as an excuse during the trial amounting to afterthought. “The accused person only tendered his photograph with crutches, a neck girdle, without a vehicle inspection report of the accident. There was no photo of the accident vehicle to support his defence.”


The alibi according to decided authorities must “have been promptly and lucidly disclosed to the police during the investigation. It is the considered opinion of this court that the alibi is an after-thought which cannot avail the accused person”, the Court said.


The prosecution had also alleged that Oyebamji on his Facebook account “threatened the lives of Chief Solomon Ojedayo and his household by sending defamatory and threatening messages to his phone and via Facebook that his life will soon be over as it will cost him nothing to eliminate him and his households. He had also described High Chief Solomon Ojedayo as “Sosoliso Ojedidakuda, Olowo Igbo” on Facebook, an act considered as defamatory.


Though he denied referring to the complainant as “Sosoliso Ojedidakuda”, claiming that he is a writer, a poet and an author, who could use words figuratively, the Court held that the coincidence of the name simulation with the reference drawn was meant to disparage the complainant, and therefore the prosecution proved its case against him.


Having reviewed the whole four issues raised from the written addresses of the prosecution and the defence, Chief Magistrate Salami resolved that “the evidence, both oral and written, weighed against the defendant. So, the prosecution had manifestly proved its case against the defendant. The 7th accused person is therefore found guilty and is accordingly convicted”.


In his allocution, Folaranmi’s lawyer, Niran Ojekale, pleaded for leniency, saying “I apply to the magnanimity of the court to temper justice with mercy. All along the proceedings, he had suffered greatly by having to be remanded in police custody.


“He is a family man whose dependents will suffer greatly if he is thrown into the Correctional Centre. He has children still schooling, and he is a political figure. I shall be praying the court to award an option of fine as there is no record of his being a convict before”.


In his final judgment, the Chief Magistrate sentenced the former parliamentarian to sixteen months imprisonment with an option of N500,000.


Meanwhile the case is not unconnected with the ascension to the throne of Oloko of Oko in Surelere local government.

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