Absence of witness stalls trial of policeman accused of killing three men
The absence of a prosecution witness yesterday stalled the trial of a policeman, Abu Abolaji, who is alleged to have murdered three men in 2009.
Abolaji, 34, has been standing trial before a Lagos High Court, Igbosere, since 2009, after he was accused of releasing seven bullets from his AK47 rifle at Alagomeji, Yaba, killing Messrs Ibrahim Olojede, Rotimi Philips and Friday Uti.
The offence which was committed at 4, Olode St., Alagomeji, about 12:30am, was said to have contravened Section 316 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State, 2003,
Abolaji had pleaded not guilty to the tree count charges against him.
Prosecution witness, inspector Emmanuel Yahaya had at the last hearing, told the court how the defendant killed the victims.
He had stated that he and three other officers including the defendant were on patrol when the bullets were fired.
Yahaha had told the Justice Adeniyi Adebajo presided court that they were responding to a distress call from at Alagomeji on October 1, 2009, when Abolaji committed the offence.
“I was at the Adekunle Police Station on October 1, 2009, when we received a distress call informing us of a robbery at Alagomeji, after which four of us signed for ammunition and went on patrol.
“When we got there, we saw three men who ran into a car and locked themselves up immediately they saw us.
“I got down from the patrol van with Abolaji and asked him to go and find out why the men ran into the car when they saw us.
“After a while, I started hearing gunshots, and I moved to the scene to ask the defendant why he was shooting.
“Immediately I got there, he said it was a mistake and the gun was collected from him by another police officer who later discovered that seven of the bullets had been fired.
“While one of the victims died instantly, the two two passed on as we were taking them to a General Hospital,” he said.
Following Yahaya’s absence at the resumed hearing, prosecuting counsel Olaitan Shoetan prayed the court for an adjournment but lawyer to Abolaji, Victor Okpala raised an objection.
He argued that the defendant has been in custody since 2009 and if the prosecution witness was absent, the court should adjourn for the defence to open its case.
“I pray the court to adjourn the case for defense because this is a criminal charge which has been hanging on the neck of the defendant since 2009 and he has been in detention since then,” Okpala said.
However, Adebajo overruled the prayer of the defense counsel asking him what should happen to the victims in their graves and said he would give the prosecution ample time to prove their case.
“The defendant was alleged to have discharged seven shots from his AK-47 rifle accidentally which led to the death of three men in a car.
“I will give the prosecution every chance to prove their case,” said Adebajo, just as he adjourned the case to November 18 for continuation of trial.