Trial continued on Monday for the driver of the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit, Andrew Ominikoron, who allegedly murdered a fashion designer, Oluwabamise Ayanwole.
The police witness, Goddy Ihende, was cross-examined by the defence counsel, Abayomi Omotubora, at the Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square.
Ihende told Justice Sherifat Sonaike that the case was initially reported as a kidnapping incident.
Ominnikoron is facing five counts bordering on rape, conspiracy, felony, sexual assault, and murder.
The prosecution told the court that Ominnikoron conspired with others now at large to rape and murder the 22-year-old passenger, Ayanwole, around 7pm between the Lekki Ajah Expressway and Carter Bridge, on February 26, 2022.
The 47-year-old defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the resumed trial on Monday, the witness said he and his boss, ASP Razak Oseni, took over the case from the Department of State Services after it was reported to the Ebutero Police Station by a passer-by.
He said, “After the police officers at Ebutero discovered the body, they took the corpse to a mortuary and we started the investigation afresh. As of the time the case was reported at Ebutero, the defendant was not in the picture, so the case I investigated was murder.”
Earlier, Omotubora had asked the court to conduct trial within trial as he noted that the statement of the defendant was not taken voluntarily.
He said, “We are saying that the statement that was taken from the defendant was taken by way of torture, oppression and undue influence.”
However, the state prosecutor, M.A. Olateju said, “There is nowhere the defendant admitted any of the charges before the court. More so, when the defendant’s counsel has the opportunity to cross-examine the witness, the defendant will be afforded the chance to state his claim. I urge the court to allow the defendant to be cross-examined.”
Ruling on the application, Justice Sonaike declined the trial within trial.
She said, “I have read the statement of the defendant severally and it is not confessional in nature, and the section cited does not support the offence in the charge. The trial within trial is hereby declined.”
All the statements of the defendant were admitted in evidence and the matter was adjourned till December 5 for continuation of trial.