Sherifat Sonaike, a judge at the Lagos High Court in TBS, on Thursday condemned the continuous absence of the defendant’s lawyer in the trial of Andrew Ominikoron.
Mr Ominikoro is accused of raping and murdering a 22-year-old fashion designer, Bamise Ayanwola, in February inside a BRT bus.
He is also accused of raping another passenger, Maryjane Odezelu, on November 25, last year.
Abayomi Omotubora has been absent from court for the fourth time since the start of the trial.
The court adjourned the trial till June 30 because he was absent on June 7 and 9.
Again, on June 30, he was absent but sent a representative.
The judge asked the defendant, Mr Ominikoron, if he was aware his lawyer would not be present in court to defend him.
“I’m not aware,” he responded.
Moyosore Onigbajo, the state’s attorney, pleaded with the judge to inform the state to appoint a representative from the Office of the Public Defender or Legal Aid Counsel to “take over the legal representation” of the defendant in court.
He also complained about the absence of the defence lawyer without notice to the court.
“I urged the court to also take cognizance of how the defendant counsel frustrates the court proceedings,” Mr Onigbanjo said.
Judge condemns defence lawyer
The judge described Mr Omotubora’s continuous absence as “appalling and unbecoming of the noble profession.”
She, however, ordered the defendant to take a new lawyer.
“That the defendant should avail himself of new counsel to continue the conduct of his trial on the next date,” she said.
“If he fails to get a counsel, the office of the Legal Aid counsel should take over by the next date.
“It is unbecoming of the noble member of this profession to fail to attend..and fail to write to this court as a matter of courtesy. This particular counsel is of the attitude of failing to appear before the court.
She added that it is “unfortunate” that the hearing will be fixed for another date.
She fixed September 28 and 29 for further hearing of the matter.
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