The absence of three of the five students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), facing trial for allegedly gang-raping a student of the institution has stalled their criminal trial on Tuesday.
Lasgidi Reporters reports that the students are facing trial at an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court for allegedly raping a 17-year-old student of UNILAG.
The five students facing trial are: Moboluwaji Omowole, 19, Chuka Chukwu, 19, Peace Nwankama, 19, James Aguedu, 20, and Josephine Osemeka, 20.
The male defendants – Omowole, Chukwu and Aguedo were however, absent during proceedings, due to the inability of the officials of the Kirikiri Medium Prisons to bring them early to court.
NAN reports that Justice Abiola Soladoye had stood-down proceedings at 9 a.m. when none of the defendants was in court.
However, at about 10.23 a.m., the female defendants, Nwankama and Osemeka were brought into the courtroom by officials of the Kirikiri Female Prisons.
When the case was called at 10.51 a.m. for hearing, the three male defendants were still absent in the courtroom.
Aguedu’s Defence Counsel, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN), registered his displeasure over the development.
“The court sits at 9 a.m. We, the state and citizens are equal before the law.
“The same indulgence (standing-down the case) will not have been granted if the situation was the reversed,” he said.
Reacting to Pedro’s submission, Dr Jide Martins, a Director in the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and lead prosecutor in the case, noted that the delay was not caused by the prosecution.
“The correctional services are yet to bring the defendants to court. I do not want to speculate but one can generally assume that it is caused by the traffic situation.
“I am not comfortable with the aspersion that is inferred that the delay was at the instance of the prosecution.
“This is beyond our control. We have done our part. Our witness is in court and we are ready to proceed with our case.”
However, as a result of the absence of the three male defendants, Soladoye adjourned the case till Dec. 3 for continuation of trial.
A prison official, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on condition of anonymity at the court premises, confirmed that the absence of the defendants was as a result of heavy traffic.
“I spoke to my colleagues at the Kirikiri Medium Prison. They are encountering very terrible traffic in that area. That is why there was delay in bringing them to court this morning,’’ he said.