The absence of two defence witnesses on Thursday stalled the trial of Ogunyemi Olalekan, a dismissed police inspector accused of the murder of a 36-year-old man, Kolade Johnson.
Mr Olalekan, who was attached to the Special Anti-Cultism Squad (SACS) of the Nigeria Police, allegedly shot Mr Johnson in the lower abdomen on March 31, 2019, at a viewing centre in Mangoro, Lagos. He was dismissed from the police days later.
During Thursday’s proceedings at the Ikeja High Court in Lagos, the defence counsel, Abayomi Omotubora, informed the court that the defence witnesses, who are police officers, were absent.
He said they were not in court because they had not gotten clearance from police authorities.
“One of them said he needs to get clearance from the authorities while the other witness said he did not get the clearance because he is on special duties.
“One is in Port-Harcourt while the other is in Asaba.
“I have assurances from them that if the matter is adjourned, they will work towards coming to court,” Mr Omotubora said.
Reacting, the lead state prosecutor, Adebayo Haroun, told the court that it was the second time the defence would be requesting an adjournment due to the absence of the two witnesses.
“My lord, this adjournment should be the last one. If the defence have no more witnesses, they should inform the court,” Mr Haroun said.
The judge, Adenike Coker, adjourned the case until April 8 for the continuation of defence.
“The defence should make sure their witnesses are in court. The defendant is further remanded at the correctional facility,” she said.
NAN reports that while testifying in his defence on Jan. 19, Mr Olalekan, who served as a policeman for 20 years before his dismissal, denied killing Mr Johnson.
He told the court that on the day of the alleged murder, he was the leader of the team patrolling the Mangoro area and had been issued an AK47 rifle with 10 rounds of ammunition for his duties.
According to him, his team had received some intelligence that some cultists were drinking alcohol, taking hard drugs and causing trouble at a viewing centre located in an eatery called Kingston-Jo.
He said that on arriving at the scene, he arrested two persons – Ismail Folorunsho (first prosecution witness) and Paul (surname not provided).
The defendant said that while effecting the arrests, he and his team were viciously attacked by a mob.
“Folorunsho had shouted that kidnappers have arrested him, the boys were holding iron, cutlasses and pieces of wood. They were shouting “olopa ole” (the police are thieves).
“They said they didn’t believe we were policemen; I identified myself but they threatened to kill us, Folorunsho was dragging with my boys till he saw me with the AK47.
“They refused to listen to me, I noticed someone was dragging my arm away from me, we were surrounded and mobbed. The crowd from Kingston-Jo had joined them.
“I was the only one holding a gun, I shot once in the air because our lives were in danger and I was hacked in the hand with a cutlass by the cultists.
“They moved back after the shot and I had the opportunity to move my men. I noticed shots being fired on our way out with the two arrested suspects,” he said.
The defendant said that he had nine rounds of ammunition left and had to quickly flee the scene with his men because they were stoned by the mob.
He also alleged that his team could not withstand the gunshots fired at them by some individuals in the crowd.
Mr Olalekan said he was treated in the hospital for his injuries and that the next day, he was informed by his bosses that Mr Johnson had been shot during the incident.
He denied being responsible for Mr Johnson’s demise.(NAN)
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