The ongoing trial of the alleged killers of four students of University of Port Harcourt, Choba, on October 5, 2012, which happened in Aluu community near the institution, suffered a setback yesterday after the High Court Judge, Justice T. S. Oji, withdrew from the case.
Her decision to return the case file to the chief judge was sequel to the observation she made that the third accused person, Ikechukwu Louis Amadi, out of the 11 accused persons, did not have a lawyer to defend him.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mr. I. Otorubio, who led the state’s team for prosecution announced their appearance in the matter but no legal representation for the accused. The judge who was not happy with the development said she would rather return the case to the chief judge than try it because she would not take side in the matter.
“It is safer to send the matter back to the chief judge for re-assignment than favour any party in this matter,” she said. The trial judge said her hands were tied in the case because she had close relationship with the two parties (accused persons and victims) in the matter. The victims are Ugonna Obuzor, Lloyd Toku Mike, Tekenah Elkanah and Chiadika Biringa.
The accused were Lawal Segun, Ex-Sergeant Lucky Orji, Ikechukwu Louis Amadi, David Chinasa Ogbada, Abiodun Yusuf, Joshua Ekpe, Abang Cyril, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, Okoghiroh Endurance, Ozioma Abajuo and Chigozie Evans Samuel. “The accused persons, I know them.
The victims I know. My hands are tied in this matter. I am sitting between the devil and deep sea,” she stated, saying her decision to return the case to the chief judge was not because she lacked the competence to handle it but because of the sensitive nature of the case.
Justice Oji pointed out that the case had received widespread publicity and had attracted much attention, adding that the image of the judiciary should be protected. “It is a matter of widespread publication.
The judiciary wants to maintain its image. It is not a matter of incompetence but because of its sensitive nature.” She expressed confidence in the Rivers State judiciary to try every case, stressing that the vital point in the Aluu case was not that justice was done but it must be seen.
“I will not satisfy anybody. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to have been done.
The Rivers State judiciary has very capable hands to try all matters.” However, the case had been at the Port Harcourt Magistrate Court but due to the fact that it lacked jurisdiction to try the matter, the case was transferred to the High Court, which commenced yesterday.