Cynthia: Lawyer Wants Indefinite Postponement Of Trial

Cynthia: Lawyer Wants Indefinite Postponement Of Trial

Olukayode Dada, counsel to Ezike Olisaeloka, one of the four persons linked with the death of Cynthia Osokogu, the daughter of Maj.-Gen. Frank Osokogu (retd), on Tuesday told an Ikeja High Court, Lagos, that his client and the other accused persons had been unduly “tried and convicted” on the pages of newspaper.

Olisaeloka, his brother, Nonso, Orji Osita, a pharmacist, and Okwumo Nwabufo were brought before the court by the office of the Attorney-General of Lagos State to press formal criminal charges against them.

But, Dada, while addressing the court said the “foreknowledge of the presiding judge (Justice Olabisi Akinlade) about this case will not “guarantee” Olisaeloka’s fair trial.

He made an application seeking an order of the court to stay the proceeding on the charge against the second defendant pending the time he will have a “fair hearing.” He also urged the court to use its discretion and grant him bail.

He said, “There has been a media-generated notoriety of the case, especially on the pages of newspapers and on social media, where they have been tried and even convicted.

“In view of this, fair trial cannot be guaranteed the second defendant at this time.

“The judge even has a foreknowledge of the case, thus the court cannot guarantee independence and impartiality.”

But, the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, who appeared alongside the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs. Olabisi Ogungbesan, and seven other state counsel for the prosecution, opposed Dada’s application.

Ipaye, who is also the state Commissioner for Justice, urged the court to dismiss the application, adding that it was a statement of “mere opinion” and not facts.

He said, “I wish to observe, first, that what the applicant seeks is an order of the court to suspend indefinitely the arraignment and trial of the second defendant (Olisaeloka). I strongly oppose the application because the suspect cannot be tried at his own leisure.

“Fair hearing and reasonable time referred to in the constitution is not by the public or by the press, but by the court or tribunal established by law.

“The constitution seeks specifically for the independence and impartiality of the courts not that of the general public in respect of a criminal trial.”

Ipaye also urged the court to exercise its judicial discretion to refuse the applicant’s request for bail and proceed with the arraignment and speedy trail of all the defendants.

Justice Akinlade dismissed Dada’s application on the grounds of incompetence.

The judge also dismissed the application for Olisaeleka’s bail, adding that he did not show any “special evidence” that would require him to be freed on bail.

Akinlade said, “Emphasis (in the constitution) is fair hearing within a reasonable time. The matter must not be allowed to drag aimlessly to jeopardise the defendant’s fundamental rights. This application is incompetent and is hereby dismissed.”

She subsequently fixed the arraignment of the suspects, and possible trial, for February 8.

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