The soldiers got new counsel.
An Abuja High court on Wednesday adjourned to March 19 the trial of four dismissed soldiers charged with rape. The adjournment was to enable two new defence counsel study the case file.
Nse Eywdip, 33; Ugwu Mathew, 23; Emezien Uzonna, 24; and Efosa Ikhomoregbe, 23 were arraigned on a 12-count charge bordering on conspiracy, rape, assault and armed robbery on January 23, 2013.
Nanpon Wuyep, made his first appearance for the first accused (Mr. Eywdip) after taking over from Richard Ebier; and Ugbonna Labechi took over from Chris Ugwuatu, who represented Messrs Mathew, Uzonna and Ikhomoregbe.
Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi fixed the date after hearing an oral application by Mr. Wuyep and Ms. Labechi seeking for more time to study the case file and prepare.
The prosecution counsel, Adama Musa, did not object to the prayers of the two counsel.
It will be recalled that on January 9, at the last sitting of the court, a prosecution witness, Olamide Olayemi, told the court that the four dismissed soldiers left their guard duty-post to commit the crime.
Mr. Olayemi, a police inspector, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, Musa, told the court that on the day of the incident, they were supposed to be on duty at the Airtel Mast in Wuse 2.
“The accused persons left their guard duty-post in their official Hilux Van, armed with their official rifles.
“The accused persons arrested the victims and collected N104,000 from them which they shared among themselves,” he said.
The soldiers, who have already been dismissed from the Nigeria Army, were alleged to have committed the offence between December 21 and 23, 2012 at about 9 p.m. at the River Plate Garden in Wuse 2, Abuja.
The offence is punishable under sections 97(1) and 298 and 283 of the Penal Code.
If convicted they face a total of 35 years in prison.
They pleaded not guilty.