Judge’s absence stalls trial of Cynthia Osokogu’s alleged murderers

Cynthia Osokogu

The alleged confessional statements of the suspects was to be argued.

The trial of the alleged murderers of Cynthia Osokogu was stalled on Friday due to the absence of Olabisi Akinlade, the trial judge.

The court registrar said that Mrs. Akinlade was “indisposed.”

The court adjourned till September 20 for a ‘trial-within-trial.’

Ms. Osokogu, 24, was allegedly drugged and murdered in a hotel room in July 2012 in Festac, Lagos.

The suspects, Okwumo Nwabufor and Olisaeloka Ezike, are charged, for Ms. Osokogu’s death, with conspiracy to commit murder, murder, and felony.

Osita Orji, a pharmacist who sold the Rophynol drug to the alleged murderers, is accused of reckless and negligent act; while Nonso Ezike, who pawned the deceased’s Blackberry phone, is charged with possession of stolen property.

Friday’s ‘trial-within-trial’ was billed for the argument on an alleged confessional statement from Messrs Nwabufor and Olisaeloka.

Victor Opara, counsel to Mr. Nwabufor, told PREMIUM TIMES that the police obtained the statements under duress.

“The police say they had obtained a confessional statement from both the first and second defendants (Mr. Nwabufor and Olisaeloka respectively),” Mr. Opara said.

“The trial-within-trial would determine whether the statement was made voluntarily.

“If the court comes to a conclusion that it was made under duress, it would not be admitted,” Mr. Opara said.

“The larger trial is still on,” he added.

Seven witnesses have testified in the ongoing trial, with a post-mortem examination result revealing that the deceased died from asphyxia – absence of oxygen supply to the body.

The defendants arrived the court from the Kirikiri Prison, except Mr. Orji who had been attending from home after he was granted bail by the court.

Mr. Nwabufor, looking physically unwell, limped out of the court when it was time to return to the prison.

At the last sitting in June, Joseph Edo, a police investigative officer with Area E, Festac Town, told the court that Ms. Osokogu was chained and strangled to death by her killers.

In a testimony which was as chilling as it was revealing, Mr. Edo said that during the interrogation of Messrs Nwabufor and Olisaeloka, the former verbally attacked the latter, accusing him of trying to implicate him.

”Nwabufor confronted Ezike at the station saying why did you bring me to the police to arrest me? Why didn’t you tell them you strangled the deceased to death?” Mr. Edo, a police Inspector, had said during his testimony.

Mr. Edo also testified that Mr. Nwabufor had confessed to the police that Mr. Olisaeloka, after allegedly committing the act, placed Ms. Osokogu’s international passport on her chest and took her photograph with his blackberry phone.

He also said the police recovered some property of the deceased at Mr. Olisaeloka’s home.

The recovered property, which were tendered before the court, include two international passports belonging to Ms. Osokogu, her driver’s licence, a vibrator, jewelries, a pair of shoes, and two bags.

Others include a laptop, two mobile phones, and a pair of sun glasses.

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