By CHINYERE OMEIRE
LAGOS- A Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square on Monday declined an application for a trial within trial in the ongoing trial of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) driver, Andrew Ominikoron, the alleged murder suspect of Oluwabamise Ayanwole.
Ominnikoron is facing a five-count charge bordering on rape, sexual assault and murder of his 22-year-old passenger.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that at the last proceeding, when the prosecution sought to tender the statement of the defendant through a witness, the defendant counsel objected to the addmisibility of the statement.
He, therefore, applied for a trial within trial to determine whether the statement of the defendant was voluntary.
At the resumed trial, Justice Sherifat Sonaike, in a short ruling said that the statements of the defendant made on March 7, 8 and 9, and that of May 5, did not show any coercion.
“I have read the statement of the defendant severally, it is not confessional in nature and the section cited does not support the offence in the charge.
“The offence which is rape, conspiracy to murder, murder and sexual assault, the defendant had denied all through the statement. The trial within trial is hereby declined,” the judge said.
Sonaike made the ruling after listening to the arguments of both counsel on the reason why trial within was requested for.
The defence counsel, Mr Abayomi Omotubora, said that his application was premised on Section 29 (2) (b) of the Evidence Act.
Omotubora said that the statement of the defendant was taken by way of torture, oppression and undue influence.
The defence counsel also said that what amounted to confession was determined by the case and cited Section 28 of the Evidence Act.
While responding to the defence counsel’s submission, the Prosecution Counsel, Mr M. A. Olateju, said that it was unfortunate that the interpretation given to Section 29 (2) (b) of the Evidence Act, was not what was intended in that Section.
“The statement of the defendant is not confessional in nature.
“There is no where the defendant admitted any of the charge before the court, moreso, the defendant’s counsel will have the opportunity to cross-examine the witness.
“The defendant will be afforded the chance to state his claim,” he said.
After the short ruling, the seventh prosecution witness, SP Goddy Ihende, continued with the evidence.
He was cross-examined by the defendant’s counsel, Omotubora.
The witness said that the case was originally reported as a kidnap case.
He said that he later discovered that it was not a case of kidnap but a case of murder when the case went viral on the internet.
When asked if he knew that the case was first reported at the Ebutero Police division, he said yes that he took over the case from Ebutero Police division and that it was a passerby that reported the case at Ebutero.
When asked if he took statement from the complainant, Ihende answered that it was not in his position to obtain statement from the complainant.
“I am not the direct IPO of this case. I am the team leader,” he said.
After the evidence of the seventh prosecution witness, Justice Sonaike adjourned the case until Dec. 5, for continuation of trial.
The prosecution had told the court that Ominnikoron conspired with others now at large, raped and murdered his 22-year-old passenger.
It said that the defendant had sexual intercourse with Ayanwole, without her consent and murdered her at about 7.00p.m., on Feb. 26, between Lekki Ajah Expressway and Carter bridge.
The prosecution alleged that the defendant and others now at large unlawfully killed Ayanwole by throwing her out of a moving bus between Lekki- Ajah Expressway and Cater bridge.
The prosecution also said that the defendant on Nov. 25, 2021, at about 8p.m., at the Conservation Centre, Lekki Ajah Expressway Lagos, allegedly raped a 29-year-old woman, one Maryjane Odezulu, without her consent.
According to the prosecutor, the offences contravened Sections165, 223, 260 and 412 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
However, the 47-year-old defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge. (NAN)