A High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti yesterday refused to grant an oral application by the defence team to peruse, before real trial begins, the autopsy report and video recording lined up by the prosecution as part of exhibits in the alleged murder of a woman, Mrs. Rebecca Adewumi.
The 70-year-old Mrs Adewunmi was murdered mid 2012 for alleged witchcraft in Omuo-Ekiti, Ekiti East Local Government Area of Ekiti State. Moving the application, the lead counsel to the three accused persons, Mr. Lekan Olatawura, premised his action on the provisions of Section 36 (b) of the 1999 Constitution.
Olatawura, who is defending Chief Olatubosun Orojo, Mrs. Adesola Adewumi Adeyemo and Miss Abbey Feranmi, slammed with a six-count charge in the murder of Madam Adewumi, pointed out that though there were other items listed by the prosecution as exhibits, he was particular about the autopsy report and the video recording of how the deceased was killed. In his submission while countering, the prosecution team led by Mr. Peter Alabi, the deputy director public prosecutions, argued that the defence had all the statements of the witnesses he would call later, adding that the demand by the defence was hasty and the trial proper was about to commence.
He averred that the provisions of Section 36 (b) and (c) did not justify the demand of the defence and that what was important was for the defence to have enough time to prepare. Alabi then urged the court to disregard the demand of the defence team for the trial to move properly, saying all necessary materials would be made available to the defence team. Olatawura, while defending his stance, said the prosecution failed to show any prejudice it would suffer if those materials were made available to his team.
Ruling on the matter, Justice Oluwatoyin Bodunde, disagreed with Olatawura, saying during the trial the defence team would have access to those items and could then ‘tear’ them up legally. The defence counsel told the court that he was ready for the trial to commence and Justice Bodunde asked the prosecution whether it was ready to call its witnesses.
Alabi told the court that out of the nine witnesses he planned to call, two were in court and that he would also need Witness Summons from the court to compel two of his witnesses that were public servants to appear in court. Justice Bodunde said she was not pleased with the production of two out of nine witnesses by the prosecution, saying the judiciary was no longer interested in cases dragging on endlessly and urged both sides to be ready for a speedy trial.
The case was later adjourned to March 5 and 6.