The trial of an undergraduate of the University of Lagos, Chidinma Ojukwu, the alleged murder suspect of Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga, on Tuesday, could not go on, due to the absence of the defendant.
Ojukwu, a 300-level student of the Department of Mass Communication is being tried before a Lagos State High Court in Tafawa Balewa Square, on nine counts of murder, theft, and forgery.
She was arraigned alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.
At the resumed trial on Tuesday, only the third defendant, Egbuchu, was present. Ojukwu and Quadri were not brought to court from the correctional facility.
Inmates were not brought to court due to the industrial action by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya said correctional facility officials had informed the court that the inmates would not be brought to court for security purposes until the strike was called off.
Counsel for the first defendant, Mr. Onwuka Egwu, said, “Due to the NLC strike, I suggest that tomorrow’s date be vacated and a fresh clear date is given.”
Also the second defendant’s counsel, Mr Babatunde Busari, however, said “Despite the effort given to this case by this court, the trial is still taking too long.
“There is no trial day that I come to this court without the trial going on. I also suggest that a clear date be given to ensure that substantive justice is done to this matter.”
He also asked the prosecution counsel, Mrs Adenike Oluwafemi, Director of Public Prosecutions to mention how many prosecution witnesses are yet to give evidence.
The DPP told the court that apart from the ninth prosecution witness, DSP Olusegun Bamidele, who was still giving evidence under cross-examination, “there are two more witnesses”.
Consequently, Justice Adesanya, vacated Wednesday’s date to ensure that the NLC strike would not disrupt proceedings.
She adjourned the case till December 5 and December 7, 2023, for the continuation of trial.
The ninth prosecution witness, DSP Bamidele, had at the last proceeding in June, narrated how he examined the body of late Ataga at the mortuary.
The witness was cross-examined by the first defendant’s counsel, Egwu.
The witness had told the court that he visited the mortuary two days after the deceased died to carry out his investigation.
Bamidele narrated that the body bag was opened in his presence for observation.
He told the court that he saw injury on the body and neck region of the deceased.
According to him, he instructed the mortuary attendant to turn the body over and he saw marks on the side of the left ribs.
The witness also told the court that there was an injury at the lower centre of the head, adding that It was an open injury that showed signs of stabbing.
Ojukwu and the two others were arraigned on October 12, 2021, by the Lagos State Government.
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.