The Lagos State Government has demanded speedy trial of the four suspects in connection with the murder of Cynthia Osokogu in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye said the case was unnecessarily slow, adding that “it is not part of Nigeria’s Law that a defendant be charged at his leisure.”
Ipaye, who spoke at the resumption of the case on Wednesday noted that the longer the trial of cases involving criminals were delayed, the less likely the possibility of fair hearing of such cases, stressing that the witnesses might no longer be available, or the Investigating Police Officers could have been transferred, thereby leading to prison congestion.
The suspects in the case, Okwumo Nwabufo, Ezike Olisaeloka, Orji Osita and Ezike Nonso facing trial on a six-count charge of felony, conspiracy, robbery and murder were arraigned before Justice Olabisi Akinlade.
Their charge sheet stated that Okwumo Nwabufo and Ezike Olisaeloka at Cosmilla Hotel, Amuwo-Odofin, Festac Town murdered Cynthia Osokogu by administering Rohypnol Flunitrazepan tablets in her drink, chaining her hands and legs and strangulating her, an offence punishable under the criminal law of Lagos State.
It also stated that Nwabufo and Olisaeloka at Cosmilla Hotel, Amuwo-Odofin, Festac Town stole three blackberry phones valued at N150,000, jewellery, an international passport and a driver’s license, property of Cynthia Osokogu, contrary to the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
On the other hand, Osita was charged with negligently selling Rohypnol Flunitrazepan tablets without a doctor’s prescription and without showing due care while Ezike Nonso was charged with possession of a stolen property.
The counsel to the second defendant Mr. Olukayode Dada in his application appealed that his client was not in a position to stand trial at this period as the case had received so much media publicity, adding that the position of the press would not guarantee fair hearing for his client.
Dada also appealed that the trial be postponed and that his client granted bail to continue his education at the Anambra State University.
Ipaye, who represented the state government, said the public and the press could not convict and that fair hearing is the responsibility of the court, while urging the judge not to grant the application for bail for the suspect, and for the suspension of the trial, noting that the case is a murder case.
‘To suspend hearing indefinitely is strongly opposed. I therefore urge the judge to refuse the application and proceed for arraignment and speedy trial,” he pleaded.
Justice Akinlade, responding said that murder was a serious offence and that the court is empowered to ensure “fair hearing in public within a reasonable time.”
She said the application of the counsel to the second defendant lacked merit while the application was consequently dismissed. The case has been adjourned till 8 February, 2013.