Publish date: 2022-06-30 22:09:44 | Author: Babatunde Titilola | Source: punchng.com
Justice Sherifat Sonaike of the Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square on Thursday ordered the trial of Nice Omininikoron, the suspect in the murder of a 22-year old fashion designer, Oluwabamise Ayanwola, to continue despite the absence of the defense counsel, Abayomi Omotubora, for the third consecutive time.
Omininikoron was facing four counts of conspiracy, rape, and murder of Ayanwole contrary to and punishable under sections 411, 223, 260 and 165 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
Omotubora had been absent on June 7 and 9 as the court adjourned the trial till June 30.
However, at the resumed trial, his representative, P.O Idogun, representative, P.O Idogun, informed the court that Omotubora recovered from his illness but had to travel for an interview in Abuja.
Idogun sought an adjournment for the continuation of trial.
He said, “The lead counsel was in Abuja for an interview and it is not yet concluded. He called me this morning to hurriedly come here and attend this matter. This is not to disrespect this court. Our application is to pray for an adjournment before the court.
“I have not appeared in this matter before. I know I am duty-bound to continue but I appeal before the court that the matter will proceed on the next adjourned date because I might not properly and effectively do it today.”
The Attorney-General of the state, Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, leading the prosecution, objected to the application citing that the matter had been adjourned for the third time in a month at the instance of the defense counsel. He said the interview should not supersede the criminal case.
He said, “I oppose the application for an adjournment. The defense has held the administration of criminal justice to ransom. Instead of being here, they seek the most ridiculous position that an interview with the police takes precedence over this matter.
“Again, we are here with three witnesses and ready to proceed. My humble application is that the counsel who has made an appearance for the defense in court be ordered to continue. The court should not allow any counsel to treat it with levity or disdain. The position of the law is that anybody who announces appearance must carry on. It is presumed that he has all it takes to move the case forward,” he added.
In her ruling on the application, Justice Sonaike said the court would proceed with the trial as the defense counsel could no longer delay with excuses.
She said, “This matter has suffered a series of adjournment in the instance of the defense counsel. I am not inclined to approve the application for adjournment based on frivolities. In the interest of justice, the defense counsel is hereby called upon to continue the trial.”
Continuing the trial, the third prosecution witness, Kayode Aluko, under oath, told the court that the defendant was an outsourced driver recommended by a company called Excel. Aluko who works with the Lagos Bus Services Limited said his job was to provide welfare for the drivers and monitor their shifts.
He said, “I knew him as the captain of the bus and one of our outsourced drivers. He was employed between August and September 2021 and was on PM shift between 1pm and 10pm. He never signed out of work on December 29, 2021 and February 26, 2022.”
Aluko said families of the deceased reported to their office that she was missing, and he reported to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, where he made his statement. He said he didn’t know the character of the defendant until he saw various posts about him on social media after the incident.
Another witness, ASP Amos Isibor, who was the Incident Duty Officer on that day, told the court that he was assigned to find out what was happening at the express road where people had gathered.
He said, “When I got there, I met a naked female lifeless body. I inquired and reliably confirmed that the body was thrown out of a moving car. The people tried to revive her with sachet water but she was dead. We got a wrapper to cover the naked body and I called the patrol vehicle to pick the body and protect it till the following day.
“A week after the body was deposited at the morgue, three persons, claiming to be relatives of a missing girl, came to our station. I looked at the pictures they gave. They looked alike with the picture of the girl I took with my phone a week ago. I brought my phone to show their picture and they confirmed she was their relative. We also went to the morgue to confirm,l.”
The third witness, Segun Abbey, a field officer of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, also told the court that the agency had received a similar report from one Odezelu Mary-Jane, alleging the defendant of rape. He said the agency sent a referral letter to the police station and the SCID took over the case.
The prosecution made applications for an amended charge and for virtual presentation of their next witness. The state preferred an amended four-count charge on the defendant to wit; rape of Odezulu Mary-Jane, conspiracy to commit rape and murder, murder of Oluwabamise Ayanwola, and sexual assault of Onyinchechi Anoke.
The defendant pleaded guilty to all charges.
Justice Sonaike adjourned the case till July 7 for continuation of trial.