The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) driver, Andrew Omininikoro, accused of the murder of a 22-year-old, Bamise Ayanwola, was Tuesday arraigned at the high court in Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos, on a four-count charge of conspiracy, murder, and rape.
The suspect pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The judge, Sherifat Sonaike, ordered that the accused be remanded at the Nigerian Correctional Centre (NCS) in Ikoyi.
The suspect and others, said to be at large, allegedly conspired to rape and murder Miss Ayanwola “at about 1900 hours on February 26 between Lekki-Ajah and Carter bridge in Lagos.”
Jide Martins, who is the director of public prosecutions, represented Lagos state while Isaac Ezekwem represented the defendant.
Another lawyer, Ayo Ademiluyi, announced an appearance for the deceased’s family.
The charges were read out in English Language and interpreted to the defendant in pidgin English, as he told the court he didn’t understand English very well.
Mr Omininikoro is also accused of raping another young lady (name withheld) last November, along the Lekki Ajah expressway.
After the defendant’s plea was taken, the judge asked his lawyer and the DPP for more information to be included in the case management form.
Mr Martins informed the court that there would be a need for the charges against the defendant to be amended and that the post-mortem examination of the deceased was still pending, the result of which would be later added to the proof of evidence already before the court.
He also affirmed that the state will require special facilities such as audio and video players for the trial.
On the part of the defendant, the judge asked his lawyer whether they would be considering the option of plea bargain. Mr Ezekwem said: “most likely”.
After the preliminary information had been provided, the case was adjourned to May 9, 10 and 11, 2022, for trial to begin fully.
Reacting to the hearing, the family’s lawyer, Mr Ademiluyi told journalists that it had rejected the conduct of the autopsy being conducted by the police and the Lagos state government.
“In every sense, the Lagos State government is a party to this crime, and so it can’t have an appointee as a pathological judge, they can only observe. We are assembling a team of professors of pathology to observe for us….we are writing to the Canadian, American and British medical associations to provide international observers at the pathological anatomy of the Miss Ayanwola.”
Mr Ademiluyi also said the opinion of the pathologists would confirm whether certain parts of Miss Ayanwola’s body were removed after her murder.
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