An Igbosere High Court in Lagos on Thursday dismissed an application seeking to reject the confessional statements allegedly made by a lawyer, Udeme Otike-Odibi, accused of killing her lawyer husband, Symphorosa.
Justice Adedayo Akintoye held that Otike-Odibi’s prayer did not satisfy the requirements of the law.
While dismissing the application, the judge said, “This court did not find that the said confessional statement was obtained contrary to the provisions of Section 93 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL).”
The judge also considered Section 35(2) of the 1999 Constitution which provides that a person accused or detained has a right to remain silent or avoid answering any question until such person has consulted a legal practitioner.
Mr Akintoye said the defence counsel was not able to establish that the defendant was not given the option to remain silent or to avoid answering any question until after consulting a legal practitioner or any other person of her choice.
“He who asserts must prove.
“It is also important to point out that the defendant, of all people, was well aware of her right, being a legal practitioner herself and as such, could have decided not to speak to any police officer.
“To now imply that she is not aware of her rights or that the police forced her to speak, appears to be very far-fetched to this court.
“The end result is that I do not find that the confessional statement being sought to be tendered has in any way contravened the provisions of Sections 93 of the ACJL or Section 35(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The prayer for an order seeking to reject the confessional statement is hereby refused and the motion is dismissed.’’
Mr Akintoye, however, adjourned the case until May 23, for a trial within trial to determine whether the confessional statement allegedly obtained from the defendant by the police should be admitted.
Udeme had through her counsel, Oluseye Banjoko, prayed the court not to conduct a trial-within-trial to determine the admissibility of two confessional statements allegedly made by her during police investigations.
Mr Banjoko had made the application on February 25, where the court was to conduct a trial within a trial.
He had said the statements were not obtained through the laid down rules as stated in Section 93 of the ACJL of Lagos State, 2015.
He said Section 93 of the ACJL made it mandatory that the constitutional provisions must be followed to achieve transparency.
Mr Banjoko said the constitution made provisions that a statement of any person arrested must be made in the presence of a lawyer or videoed.
He argued that the law was made to avoid unnecessary waste of time in conducting a trial-within-trial to determine admissibility of statements.
However, the Prosecutor, Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, Titilayo Shitta-Bey (DPP), submitted that the constitution provided that the substantive law to be adhered to in determining the admissibility of any piece of evidence would be the Evidence Act.
Mrs Shitta-Bey said the ACJL which was referred to by the defence counsel was a procedural law which could not supercede the Evidence Act.
She cited two decided cases by the Court of Appeal in which the court held that the provisions of the Evidence Act should be followed in proving the admissibility of any piece of evidence.
The prosecution went further to state that it was not how an evidence was obtained that determined its admissibility.
According to the prosecutor, so far allegations of torture, incitement, or inducement were not mentioned, whether there was video recording or the presence of a lawyer during statement taking, such will not render the statement inadmissible.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defendant was arraigned on June 13, 2018, on a two-count charge of murder of her husband, Symphorosa, and misconduct with regard to his corpse.
According to the prosecutor, Udeme stabbed Symphorosa, also a lawyer, to death and mutilated his corpse by cutting off his genitals on May 3, 2018.
The prosecutor alleged that the defendant committed the offences at their residence in Diamond Estate, Sangotedo, Lekki, Lagos State.
She said that the offences contravened Sections 165 (b) and 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
Udeme, however, pleaded not guilty but was remanded.
NAN also reports that, on January 23, the ninth prosecution witness, Olusegun Bamidele, an assistant superintendent of police, had told the court that Udeme confessed to killing her husband and cutting off his manhood.
Mr Bamidele told the court that he was the head of a team of policemen that investigated the killing and that he personally recorded the defendant’s statement.
He said it was at a police hospital, during an interactive session, that Udeme wrote a detailed confessional statement.
He said the defendant spoke freely after identifying herself as a lawyer.
NAN reports that it was when the prosecutor sought to tender the two statements that her counsel opposed the admissibility of the statements.
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