Hearing in the murder case of ex-Ekiti State National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) Omolafe Aderiye took a dramatic turn yesterday.
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Lawyers could not agree about a fresh application by the prosecution to reopen the case against the accused.
The defence lawyers opposed the application as the prosecution told the court at the last sitting that it had no more witnesses to call.
Aderiye was murdered on September 25, last year, at Ijigbo, Ado-Ekiti.
The accused are Bayo Aderiye (first), Niyi Adedipe (second), Sola Durodola (third), Kayode Ajayi (fourth), Oso Farotimi (fifth), Sola Adenijo (sixth) and Rotimi Olanbiwonnu (seventh).
Prosecution counsel Ahmed Tafa said the application to reopen the case and call fresh witnesses was premised on six grounds and supported by a 13-paragraph affidavit and a written address.
Tafa prayed the court to reopen the case, saying the fact of the application was “novel” and should be determined on its own “peculiar circumstance”.
He claimed that the application was made because the new witnesses to be called were being threatened.
Counsel to the first, third and fourth accused Chris Omokhafe objected to the application, saying “the court is not a place of sentiment”.
The attornrey to the second accused, Abiodun Fasakin, said there was no law granting power to the court to reopen a closed case.
Fasakin said: “The court is always advised to exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously and never get carried away by sentiment and speculation. We urge the court to refuse the application.”
Counsel to the fifth and seventh accused Lekan Olatawura drew attention to paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 of his counter-affidavit, noting that there was no reply by the prosecution and the averments were deemed admitted.
Olatawura said: “It is principally to the effect that either of the fifth and seventh accused tampered with any witness or induced any witness. I urge the court to dismiss the application (of the prosecution).
Counsel to the sixth accused Adetunji Oso aligned with other defence lawyers, citing the case of Willoughby v IMP Ltd as reported in 1987 1 NWLR pt 48 at pg 105, particularly at pgs 116-127, urging the court to dismiss the application.
Tafa said the case cited by Oso was a civil matter and did not apply to the case, arguing that in a civil matter the requirement of proof is the preponderance of evidence while in a criminal case, it is proving beyond reasonable doubt.