The trial of University of Lagos student, Chidinma Ojukwu, alleged murder suspect of Super TV CEO, Usifo Ataga, on Tuesday could not continue due to the absence of the accused.
Ojukwu, a student of the 300-year-old Faculty of Mass Communication, is on trial at the Lagos State High Court at Tafawa Balewa Square on nine counts of murder, theft and forgery.
She was arraigned along with her sister Chioma Egbuchu and one Adedapo Quadri.
Only the third defendant, Egbuchu, was present at the resumed hearing on Tuesday. Ojukwu and Quadri were not brought to court from prison.
The prisoners were not prosecuted due to industrial action by the Nigerian Labor Congress and Trade Union Congress.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya said prison officials had informed the court that for security reasons, the inmates would not be charged to court until the strike was called off.
The lawyer for the first defendant, Mr. Onwuka Egwu, said: “In view of the NLC strike, I suggest that tomorrow’s date be vacated and a new, clear date be set.”
However, the second accused’s counsel, Babatunde Busari, also said: “Despite the efforts put into this case by the court, the trial is still taking too long.
“Not a court day goes by that I come to this court without a hearing. I also suggest setting a clear date to ensure that substantive justice is done to the case.”
He also asked the prosecution counsel, Mrs. Adenike Oluwafemi, Director of Public Prosecutions, to mention how many prosecution witnesses were yet to testify.
The DPP told the court that apart from the ninth prosecution witness, DSP Olusegun Bamidele, who continued to give evidence at the hearing, “there are two more witnesses”.
Judge Adesanya therefore missed Wednesday’s deadline to ensure that the NLC strike did not disrupt the proceedings.
She adjourned the hearing to December 5 and 7, 2023, pending the continuation of the trial.
The ninth prosecution witness, DSP Bamidele, during the last proceedings in June, narrated how he examined the body of the late Ataga in the mortuary.
The witness was cross-examined by the first defendant’s counsel, Egwu.
The witness told the court that he visited the mortuary two days after the deceased’s death to carry out an inquiry.
Bamidele said the body bag was opened in his presence for observation.
He testified in court that he saw injuries to the deceased’s body and neck.
According to him, he ordered the mortuary worker to turn the body over and saw marks on the side of the left ribs.
The witness also told the court that there was an injury to the lower center of the head, adding that it was an open injury that showed stab marks.
Ojukwu and the other two were arraigned on October 12, 2021 by the Lagos State Government.