Bamise: Defendant’s Absence Stalls Trial as Court Adjourns Till October

June 24, 2024

A Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square has again adjourned the trial of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) driver, Andrew Ominnikoron, accused of the rape and murder of a 22-year-old fashion designer, Oluwabamise Ayanwole, due to the defendant’s leg injury.

According to an official from the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, the defendant Ominikoron fell while using the bathroom on Sunday, June 23, and sustained an injury on his left leg which resulted in his absence in court on June 24.

Ominikoron, 47, is facing a 5-count charge of rape, conspiracy, felony, sexual assault, and murder preferred against him by the Lagos State Government.

According to the charge, the incident occurred on February 26, 2022, at about 7:00 pm, near the Lekki-Ajah Conservation Centre along Lekki-Ajah Expressway, Lagos.

The prosecution alleged that the defendant had forcible sexual intercourse with Oluwabamise Ayanwole, before murdering her.

The alleged offences were said to contravene Sections 411, 223, 260 and 165 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

Ominnikoron, however, pleaded not guilty.

At the resumption of proceedings before Justice Sherifat Sonaike on Monday, June 24, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Babajide Martins announced his appearance for the prosecution while Abayomi Omotubora who had been absent consecutively announced his appearance for the defendant.

Justice Sonaike went on to ask the defence counsel why the defendant was not in court and Omotubora replied, saying that the defendant fell seriously while using the bathroom and could not make it to court due to a leg injury.

“He fell seriously, he cannot walk well”, Omotubora said.

It should be recalled that the case has been stalled countless times due to the incessant absence of the defence counsel, Omotubora.

Justice Sonaike ordered that the official from the Ikoyi Correctional Centre be called to ascertain the reason the defendant was not produced in court.

When the official was quizzed by the Judge, he said: “The defendant had a fracture on his left leg.

When he was quizzed further he added: “When I went to bring him fetch him this morning I saw that he had been taken to the clinic by the warder of his cell. His cellmate told me they were taking him to the hospital. I saw him being taken to the hospital this morning by two people.

The judge said she just wanted to know the steps taken in treating him to know what date to fix for adjournment.

The DPP said he was not satisfied that the official from the correctional centre could not clearly state the reason for the defendant’s absence and would be making an official complaint in that regard.

He said: “I do not like the fact that the official from the correctional centre could not clearly state the reason for the defendant’s absence.

“The defense counsel who was not with the defendant gave us more details therefore I will be making an official complaint in that regard.”

The judge requested that the DPP should follow up to ascertain the reason for his absence and to ensure that the defendant did not fall on his right leg in the next sitting.

“The reason you gave me was different from the reason you gave me for your absence”, Martin said.

Consequently, Omotubora stated that he would not have taken an expensive flight from another state to Lagos if he knew the defendant would not be in court.

However, Justice Sonaike reprimanded him saying: “You took up this brief, so you must be here, once we agree to be here you should be available.

Omotubora argued that he sent a colleague to hold a brief for him at the last sitting.

However Justice Sonaike stated that the person he sent was as good as not being in court, saying “this is not a take in court.”

The judge thereafter ordered the counsel to ensure his presence at the next adjourned date and the counsel agreed to be in court.

Justice Sonaike stated that given the Ikoyi Correctional Centre’s information, the defendant fell on June 23.

The former pre-planned date which was July 3rd, has been vacated.

The matter was hereby adjourned till October 17 and 24, 2024 for continuation of trial.