The ban on commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada, today stalled the trial of Andrew Nice Ominikoron, the driver of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) who is alleged to have raped and murdered 22 year old fashion designer, Oluwabamise Ayanwola.
On the 18th of May 2022, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had announced a total ban on the operations of commercial motorcycles, in six local government areas in the state with effect from today, June 1, 2022
Following the development and a planned protest by the Okada riders, the Controller of Prisons, Adebisi Adewale, directed a temporary suspension of movement of inmates to various courts in the state owing to intelligence and security reports of possible breakdown of law and order during protests planned by the riders.
At the resumed hearing of the case today before Justice Sherifat Sonaike, of the Lagos High Court, sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, the defendant, Andrew Nice was not produced in court.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Dr Babajide Martins, informed the court that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) in Ikoyi had taken the initiative not to let out any inmates following the rumours of riot by some commercial motorcyclists.
He also said that the Lagos Island area has been known to be a hotbed during such incidents and they intend to prevent any inmate from taking advantage of such incidents to escape custody.
Martins said “I don’t think the defendant’s counsel, Abayomi Omotubora, is here and the Correctional Service did not bring inmates to court because of the Okada ban and security reasons, but we have three witnesses in court.
“The second prosecution witness (PW2), who needs to finish giving his evidence, and two other witnesses are in court. I humbly request that today’s date be vacated and adjourned to other dates that has already been fixed.”
Following the development, Justice Sonaike, adjourned the case to June 7 and 9, for continuation of trial.
The judge said ” In the circumstances the matter is hereby adjourned to June 7 and 9, as earlier slated and the prosecution is hereby directed to inform the defence counsel of the new dates. The court registrar is also directed to inform the prisons to produce the defendant on the next adjourned day”.
It will be recalled that Sanwo-Olu made the pronouncement of the Okada ban at a meeting with all Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and Area Commanders in the state at the Lagos House, Ikeja.
He said, “This is the phased banning we are going to be embarking on so that others in the short while will begin to look for something else to do. We are giving the notice now, so you can begin your strategy. From the 1st of June, we want the okadas to be off these major roads,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The ban is sequel to the gruesome murder of a sound engineer, David Imoh, allegedly killed by commercial motorcyclists in the Lekki axis of the state.
It was gathered that, Imoh and a friend, a saxophonist, were said to be involved in a disagreement over N100 with a commercial motorcyclist and were attacked by the rider’s colleagues, during which Imoh was killed and then burnt.
Channels Television also gathered that most courts did not sit, as a result of this development as the inmates were not produced, from the prisons.
The trial last came up on May 10, with the second prosecution witness (PW2), Kayode Aluko, one of the Fleet operational managers at the Lagos Bus Services limited, testifying.
The witness in his evidence told the court that the defendant was employed in September, 2021.
Aluko also narrated to the court how Ominikoron ran away after they got information of how he allegedly raped and murdered Oluwabamise Ayanwole.
Aluko said that he had given an instruction to his officers who received the information of the incident that when the defendant comes he should be directed to see him for some interrogation on a missing person in his bus.
He testified that when the defendant came, the officer from the outsourcing company he met, told Ominikoron to see him, (PW2),but that Ominikoron, told them that he was going to eat, but never returned.
The witness, also gave details of how the defendant was employed by the Lagos Bus Services limited, from an outsourcing company called Excel.
He told Justice Sherifat Sonaike, that the three rape incidents made against the defendant and the murder of Oluwabamise Ayanwola, was never reported by the defendants, until February 28, after the deceased family reported the case to them.
Aluko said ” The incident of November 25, 2021, the December 29, 2021 and February 28, 2022, were never reported by the defendants and the model of bus he drove on the three occasions is Ashok Layland”.
The witness who was led in evidence in chief by the Director of Public Prosecution DPP, Dr Babajide Martins, said they have monitoring unit that monitors the movement of the driver’s route.
Aluko testified that on February, 28, at about 3pm, the elder brother of the missing lady (Bamise) was at their gate and he was having some challenges with their security guy at the gate that they should go and incident the case at a nearby police station.
He said ” When I heard the argument I asked the security to let him in and when I listened to them, they showed me a voice note and a video from the elder brother’s phone.
“In the video that I saw, it displayed my bus with number 240257 and the other voice more of two ladies and in their conversation there was an expression of fear from the lady inside the bus to the other friend.
Ominikoron is facing a five-count charge bordering on rape, conspiracy, felony, sexual assault, and murder preferred against him by the Lagos state government.
In the charge, the defendant allegedly had sexual intercourse in his BRT bus with Oluwabamise Ayanwola, a 22yr old fashion designer without her consent after which he murdered her, on February, 26, 2022
According to the prosecution, the offences committed is contrary to and punishable under Sections 411, 223, 260 and 165 of the criminal law of Lagos State 2015.
He is also accused of raping another passenger, Maryjane Odezelu, on November 25, 2021. However, the 47-year-old defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him.