Murdered OAU student: Court adjourns hearing in suspects` trial

An Osogbo High Court, on Monday, adjourned till May 31 hearing in the trial of the seven people accused of murdering Mr Timothy Adegoke, a postgraduate student of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife.

The Chief Judge of Osun, Justice Adepele Ojo, who adjourned the case said it was due to the applications brought by the defence counsel.

Ojo appealed to the counsel to tidy their briefs for a smooth proceeding.

Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), had announced his appearance to take over the prosecution of the case.

Falana told the court of a fiat received from the Osun Attorney-General to take over the matter which he was exercising.

Also, Mr Abiodun Badioara, the State Administrator-General and Public Trustee, had also announced his appearance for the state.

NAN reports that after the former prosecution counsel, Mr M. Omosun, and the administrator-general and public trustee consulted, both aligned themselves with Falana.

Falana argued that prosecution, whether signed by the federal attorney-general or state attorney-general, once it was cleared that the matter has been filed by the police, the attorney-general could take over and issue a fiat to whoever he wished to prosecute the matter.

Falana, therefore, took over the matter from the former prosecution counsel, Mr Omosun and Mr Badiora.

The defence counsel to the first defendant, Mr Kehinde Eleja  (SAN) had opposed the taking over of the case by Falana.

He said the chief judge must allow the matter to be sorted out to know who the chief prosecutor was and who the defence counsel were dealing with.

Mr Abdulrasheed Muritala, the defense counsel, to the second, fourth and fifth defendants also told the court that the Osun Attorney-General could not by fiat transfer prosecution to Falana, adding that the proper legal process ought to be done.

Mr Edet Okon, the defence counsel to the seventh defendant, also said that the former prosecution counsel, Mr Omosun, had refused to mention any fiat that transferred the prosecution to Falana.

Okon said the transfer processes needed to be tidy, being a federal matter.

Falana formally announced his appearance in court as the new chief prosecutor, after the former prosecutor had followed due process in transferring the case to him.

Speaking at the hearing, the defence counsel to the first defendant, Mr Eleja, told the court that his client would not call any witness in his trial.

The second, fourth and fifth defence counsel, Muritala Abdulrasheed  (SAN), also told the court that he did not have the opportunity to prepare for the proceeding.

Abdulrasheed added that the second defendant needed some medical attention to stabilise her health and to also allow him (the counsel) ample opportunity to prepare for the hearing.

Abdulrasheed, who held the brief for the third and sixth defence counsel, Mr Roland Otaru (SAN), said his colleague had prayed the court for an adjournment due to some issues beyond his control.

Also, the counsel to the seventh defendant, Mr Edeth Okon, aligned himself with his colleagues for an adjournment in the circumstances.

Falana, however, said that because of his unshakable belief he was not opposing the application of the defence counsel for an adjournment.

The presiding judge and Chief Judge of Osun, Mrs Ojo, adjourned the hearing from May 25 till May 31, excluding weekends.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the second defendant Magdalene Chiefuna reportedly felt sick during the proceeding, which made the court to rise for some minutes.

NAN further reports that the chairman of Hilton Hotel, Ile-Ife, Dr Rahmon Adedoyin and the six others have been on trial over the alleged murder of Adegoke.

The six other defendants are Chiefuna,  Adeniyi Aderogba, Florence Oluwole, Oyetunde Kazeem, Kunle Adebayo and Adedeji Adesola.

The defendants had earlier pleaded not guilty to the 11 counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, attempted felony, unlawful interference with a dead body, altering, and intent to destroy evidence.

The case file number HOS/5C/2022, dated Feb.14 and filed on Feb. 17, 2022 had earlier been substituted with HOS/5C/ 2022, dated Feb. 22 and filed on March 2, 2022. 

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