The trial of an undergraduate student, Chidinma Ojukwu, charged with the murder of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga, was on Thursday stalled for the fourth time owing to the absence of her counsel.
The counsel, Mr Onwuka Egwu, had informed the court of his absence and applied for vacation of the court sitting. He said he was stuck in Anambra State due to flight delay.
Ojukwu is standing trial alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri, before a Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square.
They were charged on a nine-count charge bordering on murder, stealing and forgery.
Ojukwu and Quadri are facing the first to eight counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery of bank statements and stealing.
Egbuchu is facing the ninth count of stealing of an iPhone 7 belonging to Ataga.
At the resumed trial on Thursday, counsel to the second and third defendants told the court that they did not know why counsel to the first defendant was not in court.
The prosecution counsel, Mrs Adenike Oluwafemi, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court that she was disappointed that the first defendant’s counsel was not in court and couldn’t even call.
She also informed the court that they had a witness in court.
Also, a new counsel, Mr C. J. Jiakpona, announced his appearance for the third defendant, Chioma Egbuchu.
Jiakpona said that since he was new to the matter, he would need all the necessary documents to aid him to defend his client.
The prosecution counsel, however, informed the court that the former counsel to the third defendant, Mr Ngozi Akandu, had been given all the necessary documents.
She urged the new counsel to collect all the documents from Akandu to avoid delay.
The second defendant’s counsel, Babatunde Busari on his part reminded the court that counsel to the third defendant had asked for an adjournment at the last sitting saying he needed time to get the necessary documents to follow his defence thereby delaying the process.
Busari stated that the delay which had been occasioned by change of third defendant counsel in the past month should be avoided by the new counsel.
He said, “everything necessary to avoid the delay should be sorted out before the new legal year so that it doesn’t repeat itself in the new legal year”.
The third defendant had sometime in the month of May changed her counsel from the office of the public defender to Mr Akandu.
But since Akandu took up the third defendant’s case, the case has been adjourned three times at the instance of the defence.
After listening to all the lawyers, Justice Yetunde Adesanya warned that, moving forward, such scenarios will no longer be tolerated, as counsel will not be allowed to use excuses to delay the process.
She adjourned the case to October 4 and 6 for continuation of trial.
The three defendants were arraigned on October, 12, 2021.
They are being prosecuted by Lagos State Government.
Ojukwu and Quadri are alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on June 15, 2021 by stabbing him several times on the neck and chest with a knife.
The alleged murder took place at No. 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos State.
The duo were also accused of committing forgery by procuring and making bank account statements purported to have been made by the deceased.