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Bamise Case: Accused Driver Sustained injury in prison as Court Adjourned trial to October 

Bamise Case: Accused Driver Sustained injury in prison as Court Adjourned trial to October

The trial of a Bus Rapid Transit driver, Andrew Ominnikoron, accused of raping and murdering 22-year-old fashion designer, Oluwabamise Ayanwole, was stalled on Monday due to the defendant’s leg injury sustained in prison.

At the resumed hearing at the Lagos State High Court in Tafawa Balewa Square, an official from the Ikoyi Correctional Centre informed the court that Ominnikoron fell in the bathroom on Sunday, June 23, 2024, injuring his left leg, which caused his absence in court.

Ominnikoron, 47, is standing trial on five counts, bordering on rape, conspiracy, felony, sexual assault, and murder, as brought by the Lagos State Government.

According to the charges, the incident occurred on February 26, 2022, around 7 pm, near the Lekki-Ajah Conservation Centre, Lekki-Ajah Expressway, Lagos.

The prosecution alleges that Ominnikoron forcibly had sexual intercourse with Oluwabamise before murdering her.

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

Ominnikoron, however, pleaded not guilty.

At Monday’s hearing, before Justice Sherifat Sonaike who presided over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Dr Babajide Martins, announced his appearance for the state and Mr Abayomi Omotubora, who had been absent consecutively, appeared for the defendant.

When asked about Ominnikoron’s absence, Omotubora explained, “He fell seriously while using the bathroom and cannot walk well.”

Justice Sonaike then ordered an official from the Ikoyi Correctional Centre to confirm Ominnikoron’s condition. The official stated, “The defendant had a fracture on his left leg.”

He added, “When I went to fetch him this morning, I saw that he was being 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 wanted to understand the steps taken in treating him to decide on a new date for the adjournment.

Expressing dissatisfaction, Martins 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 defence counsel, who was not with the defendant, gave us more details. Therefore, I will be making an official complaint in that regard.”

Justice Sonaike directed the DPP to follow up and ensure Ominnikoron’s health status is verified before the next sitting.

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

Omotubora responded, “I would not have taken an expensive flight from another state to Lagos if I knew the defendant would not be in court.”

Justice Sonaike reprimanded him, saying, “You took up this brief, so you have a duty to be here. Once we agree to be here, you should be available. Show some respect and decorum to the court.”

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

However, Justice Sonaike responded, “The person you sent was as good as not being in court, and this is not a take in court.”

The judge ordered the defence counsel to ensure his presence in court at the next adjourned date.

In her ruling, Justice Sonaike vacated the earlier fixed date of July 3, 2024.

She stated, “In view of the Ikoyi Correctional Centre’s information that the defendant fell on June 23, 2024, the former pre-planned date of July 3 is vacated.”

The judge adjourned the case to October 17 and 24, 2024, for continuation of the trial.

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