Nigeria: Trial of driver accused of rape stalls

Nigeria: Trial of driver accused of rape stalls

By Zuleihat Owuiye, Mamos Nigeria

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

During the hearing at the Lagos State High Court in Tafawa Balewa Square, an official from the Ikoyi Correctional Centre informed the court that Ominnikoron had fallen in the bathroom on Sunday, June 23, 2024, injuring his left leg. This injury prevented him from appearing in court.

Ominnikoron, 47, is facing trial on five counts, including rape, conspiracy, felony, sexual assault, and murder, as charged by the Lagos State Government. The incident is alleged to have occurred on February 26, 2022, near the Lekki-Ajah Conservation Centre, Lekki-Ajah Expressway, Lagos.

The prosecution claims that Ominnikoron forcibly had sexual intercourse with Oluwabamise before killing her. These alleged offenses are in violation of Sections 411, 223, 260, and 165 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

During Monday’s hearing, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Dr Babajide Martins, expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity regarding Ominnikoron’s absence. The defense counsel, Mr Abayomi Omotubora, explained that the defendant had sustained a serious leg injury in the bathroom and was unable to walk properly.

Justice Sherifat Sonaike, who presided over the case, ordered an official from the Ikoyi Correctional Centre to confirm Ominnikoron’s condition. The official confirmed that the defendant had a fracture on his left leg and had been taken to the hospital that morning.

Martins expressed his displeasure at the lack of transparency and stated that he would be making an official complaint regarding the matter. Justice Sonaike directed the DPP to follow up and ensure that Ominnikoron’s health status is verified before the next court session.

The defense counsel, Omotubora, argued that he had sent a colleague to hold a brief for him at the last hearing. However, Justice Sonaike responded by stating that the person sent was as good as not being in court, emphasizing the importance of the defense counsel’s presence.

In her ruling, Justice Sonaike vacated the previously scheduled date of July 3, 2024, and adjourned the case to October 17 and 24, 2024, for the continuation of the trial.

Andrew Ominnikoron is represented by Mr Abayomi Omotubora, while the prosecution is led by Dr Babajide Martins.

Onozure Dania is a specializing in judiciary matters. With over a decade of experience covering criminal and civil cases, she has reported on various levels of the judicial system, from magistrates’ courts to appellate courts. She holds a degree in Political Science.

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