Judge’s Absence Stall Cynthia Osokogu Murder Trial

The trial of the alleged murderers of late Cynthia Osokogu was stalled today owing to the absence of the trial judge, Justice Olabisi Akinlade.

The court registrar told lawyers who showed up in court for the case that Justice Akinlade was “indisposed.” The lawyers and the registrar then agreed on the 20th September as the next adjourned date for the continuation of the case.

24 year old Cynthia Osokogu was allegedly drugged and murdered in a hotel room in the Amuwo Odofin area of Festac Town in Lagos in July 2012.

Two men, Okwumo Nwabufor and Olisaeloka Ezike, are standing trial for felony, conspiracy to commit murder and the murder of the late Cynthia Osokogu.

A 3rd man, Osita Orji, a Pharmacist who sold the Rophynol drug used on the late Cynthia to the alleged murderers  is standing trial along with the other two for his reckless and negligent act; while a 4th man, Nonso Ezike, who pawned her Blackberry phone, is charged with possession of stolen property.

Seven witnesses have so far testified on behalf of the prosecution in the matter. Today’s proceedings was however for a trial-within-trial’ to determine the voluntariness of a confessional statement made by the first and second defendants, Nwabufor and Olisaeloka.

Counsel to the first defendant Victor Opara, told journalists after the court adjourned that the police obtained the statements from the defendants under duress.

At the next sitting of the court, the counsel in the matter are expected to argue on whether the statements were voluntarily made or made under duress.

The court would then be saddled with ruling on whether to admit the statement and what evidence to attach to it, and then  the main trial would continue with the prosecution calling its remaining witnesses to establish the guilt of the accused persons.

A post-mortem examination result tendered by one of the prosecution witnesses earlier on in the trial indicates that the cause of the late Cynthia’s death was asphyxia – absence of Oxygen supply to the body.

Judge’s Absence Stalls Cynthia Osokogu’s Murder Trial

The absence of the trial judge in the murder case of the late Cynthia Osokogu on Friday stalled proceedings.

No reason was given for the absence of Justice Olabisi Akinlade of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja.

A court official merely stated that she was “indisposed.”

The matter was consequently adjourned till the 12th of April for continuation of trial.

Ms. Osokogu, 24, was allegedly drugged and murdered inside a hotel room in Festac Town in Lagos by men she met and became friends with on the social media site Facebook last July.

Okwumo Nwabufor and Olisaeloka Ezike; the principal suspects had been charged with conspiracy to commit felony and murder of the deceased.

The other suspects; Osita Orji, the pharmacist who sold the Rophynol drugs to the alleged murderers and Nonso Ezike who sold the deceased’s Blackberry phone were charged with reckless, negligent act and possession of stolen property respectively.

All the suspects were in court today, including Mr. Orji who had been out on bail after the judge ruled in his favour last month.

Nonso, Olisaeloka’s younger brother, who had also been granted bail, but under stricter terms is still in prison custody as he is yet to meet the conditions.

After the new trial date was confirmed, Mr. Orji left the court with a friend, while the other suspects waited for the prison wardens to take them back to the Black Maria.

The murder trial has seen the prosecution call two witnesses, both of them former employees at the hotel where Ms. Osokogu died.

Chris Obiaka, counsel to Mr. Orji said that the trial has been enjoying an accelerated trial, as promised by the judge.

“The important thing is not to rush proceedings. It is to ensure that justice is done and done accordingly,” Mr. Obiaka said.