The 2021 murder of an Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) student in a hotel and the recent death sentence of a prince who is a hotelier sets the stage for today’s story.

This incident ignited a seething fury among Nigerians to talk about ritual murder, death sentences and the many grievances associated with Nigeria’s monarchy.

To understand this story better, let’s get to know exactly who the prince is.

Who is Abdulrahmon Adedoyin?

Rahmon Adedoyin [City Voice Newspaper]

Dr Rahmon Adegoke Adedoyin of the Agbedegbede/Oshinkola Akui Ruling House, was born into privilege as a prince from Ile-Ife, Osun State. His lineage carries historical significance and is part of the traditional monarchy of the region. 

Adedoyin founded Oduduwa University in the same city and was a candidate for the Ooni of Ife throne after the late Oba Sijuade. He claimed the late king nominated him as his successor in August 2015. However, another prince, Adeyeye Ogunwunsi, became Ooni a few months later, in December 2015.

Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwunsi/[@oniadimulaife]

Adedoyin is prominent in the hospitality business in the state and owns Hilton Hotels and Resorts. This served as a lodging spot for residents of Ile-Ife and happened to be the last place where OAU Masters student, Timothy Adegoke, would ever be seen.

The disappearance and death of Timothy Adegoke

35-year-old Adegoke was set to undergo his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) examinations at OAU on November 6 and 7, 2021. He decided to use the hotel because it was close to the venue of his exam. He checked in at the Hilton Hotel the day before, November 5.

The first person to notice his disappearance was his wife. She called him the following day and noticed that his phone was consistently ringing without him picking up the call. She then contacted his parents. They sent delegates to OAU, only to discover that Adegoke was not present to write his exams.

Through the help of an abandoned receipt (which Adegoke’s wife discovered at home) and the Osun State police command, six people were arrested. This includes an Islamic Cleric (who had Adegoke’s phone), hotel staff, and Adedoyin himself. 

Further police investigations helped find Adegoke’s remains in a shallow grave at Ede Road, Osun State. This helped Adegoke’s family kickstart legal action against the prince.

Hilton Hotel, the place where Timothy Adegoke was last seen [Orbitz]

The death sentence, other parts of the verdict

After a year of legal proceedings, the Chief Judge of Osun State, Justice Adepele Ojo, dismissed Adedoyin’s case of “not being present at the hotel at the time of Adegoke’s murder”. The Chief Judge pronounced Adedoyin and two of his staff guilty of murder, with the trio facing death by hanging.

Part of the nails that eventually crucified Adedoyin was his refusal to enter the court’s witness box to prove himself innocent and Adedoyin’s Hilux van, which had murder weapons.

Asides from the death sentence, the judge added that the Hilux Van and hotel would become state property. Timothy’s children are to be educated to the university level at a cost to the three offenders.

But how does the death sentence work?

The death sentence penalty isn’t as straightforward as most people would think.

To provide nuance and better understand the case, Citizen spoke with a defence lawyer for two hotel staff. One was freed, and the other was convicted. Rowland Otaru first explained how the “death penalty” truly works.

According to Otaru, a senior advocate of Nigeria, death sentences take a while. “The convicted offender usually has up to one month to appeal his case before execution. This also gives enough time for the defence team to discover more evidence,” he said.

What’s next?

From all indications from the court’s verdict, Adedoyin’s story isn’t over yet. 

We expect to see Adesola Adedeji, the hotel receptionist and hotel manager, and Roheem (who happens to be Adedoyin’s son) come into the mix. There are expectations that their suspected involvement in Adegoke’s murder will be tested.

Roheem Adedoyin [Akede Oyo]

We also look forward to round two of the case. Otaru enthusiastically told us that the defence team would not “be going down without a fight.” They’d head to the Court of Appeal to plead Adedoyin’s case.

Over a phone conversation, Otaru shared, “I personally feel that he judged too quickly. Also, the media hype and public outcry influenced the judge. His [Adegoke’s] organs were intact, and only circumstantial evidence was used for this judgement. We’ll make our way to the Court of Appeal next month. We will not go down without a fight.”

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