Prosecution witness was absent
A furious Justice Olabisi Akinlade of a Lagos High Court, Igbosere, Monday, threatened to close the prosecution’s case at the ongoing trial of a former police officer who allegedly killed a protester during the 2012 fuel subsidy protest in Lagos.
The judge was reacting to the statement by the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions, DPP, that it was unable to produce its witnesses in court.
The dismissed Divisional Police Officer of Pen Cinema, Agege, Segun Fabunmi, was on trial for the alleged fatal shooting of Adedamola Daramola, 27, during the protest. Thousands of people had gone on the streets to protest the hike in petrol price due to the complete removal of subsidy on petrol. The government later reversed its decision and instead did a partial withdrawal of the subsidy.
Mr. Fabunmi, a former Chief Superintendent of Police, was also accused of the attempted murder and inflicting serious body injury on three other protesters whom he allegedly shot on the same day.
On Monday, Olabisi Ogungbesan, head of the DPP, told the court that her witness, the Investigative Police Officer in the case, had not arrived. But the judge was angered when she learnt of the reason for the witness’s absence – he was testifying in another trial at the Magistrate court.
“Your witness is before a Magistrate’s Court and you expect me wait for him. It is an insult on this court,” the judge said, in response to the prosecution’s plea that the court stand down the matter till 12 p.m. to enable the witness to appear.
In addition to the police witness, Mrs. Ogungbesan said that the DPP would also bring a ballistician and a pathologist to testify during the trial. The judge threatened to close the prosecution’s case if it failed to produce more than one witness at the next adjourned date.
“I thought you wanted to deal with this matter expeditiously,” said Mrs. Akinlade. “That is how you did the last time. I have given you a clear date to deal with your matter alone so I expected you to bring more than one witnesses. If the IPO cannot come, I expect you to bring the pathologist and the ballistician. If you fail to produce more than one witness at the next date, I am going to close the case of the prosecution.”
She adjourned the trial till February 18.