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Bamise: BRT Driver’s Lawyer Shuns Court, Judge Offers Public Defender

The Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square on Thursday said it would inform the Office of the Public Defender and the Legal Aid Council to prepare defence for Nice Omininikoron, the suspected killer of a 22-year-old fashion designer, Oluwabamise Ayanwola, due to the continued absence of the defence counsel, Isaac Ezeawem.

Omininikoron, a BRT driver, is facing four counts of conspiracy, rape, and murder of Ayanwole, offences punishable under sections 411, 223, 260 and 165 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

On June 7, Ezeawem informed the prosecution of his absence due to ill health and the trial was adjourned till June 9.

However, at the resumed trial on Thursday, the Attorney-General of the state, Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, while appearing for the prosecution, told the court that the defence counsel was absent and he was not notified.

He said the continuous absence of Ezeawem was frustrating the course of justice.

Onigbanjo prayed the court to arrange another counsel for the defendant so the trial could continue without Ezeawem, who had not shown interest in the case.

He said, “The Legal Aid Council and the Office of the Public Defender should be on standby in case the defendant cannot find counsel to defend him. This is in the interest of justice.”

Justice Sherifat Sonaike noted that Ezeawem had been absent for the second time in a week without informing the court.

She said, “I want to believe that today’s absence is a premeditated one, thereby wasting precious judicial time without any excuse.

“This is a very busy court and because of the interest this case has generated, this court has decided to lighten the number of cases. Unfortunately, the learned defence counsel is frustrating or has frustrated the court process. I find it unbecoming that the counsel who knows beforehand that he may not be in court in a criminal case, failed to attend the court and equally failed to notify the court of the reason for his absence either by mail, letter, or sending a junior as a sign of respect.

“In the interest of justice, the court will overlook today’s absence and direct the counsel to be in court on the next adjournment date. The Office of the Public Defender and Legal Aid will be contacted to be on standby in the event that the defence counsel cannot defend the defendant.”

The trial was adjourned till June 30.

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