Court decides veracity of accused confessional statement April 11

[FILES] A lawyer walks through the compound at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi district in Lagos, Nigeria, May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Justice Adedayo Akintoye of a Lagos High Court, Igbosere has fixed April 11, 2019 for ruling on the application asking court to reject confessional statements allegedly made by a female lawyer, Udeme Otike-Odibi. Otike-Odibi was alleged to have murdered her lawyer husband, Symphorosa in their Lekki, Lagos residence, mutilated his corpse and cut off his genitals, on May 3, 2018.

The trial judge fixed the April 11 to rule on Otike-Odibi’s application after listening to the argument of counsel on both sides on whether to conduct trial within trial to determine the admissibility of two confessional statements allegedly made by her during investigations.

At the last adjourned date on February 25, 2019, defendant counsel (Bolajoko) had prayed the court in his application not to conduct trial within trial.Defendant counsel said the statements were not obtained through the laid down rules as stated in Section 93 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) of Lagos State, 2015. He argued that Section 93 of the ACJL made it mandatory that the constitutional provisions must be followed to achieve transparency.

“Constitution made provisions that statement of any person arrested must be made in the presence of a lawyer or videoed,” he said. Bolajoko submitted that the law was made to avoid unnecessary waist of time in conducting a trial-within-trial to determine admissibility of statements. He therefore prayed the court to reject the alleged confessional statements since the provision of the law was not followed.

Responding to the application, the Prosecution counsel, Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey said that the constitution provided that the substantive law be adhered to in determining the admissibility of any piece of evidence.DPP submitted that the ACJL referred to by defendant counsel was a procedural law, which could not supercede the Evidence Act.

Buttressing her submission, the DPP cited two decided cases of Court of Appeal wherein the appeal court held that the provisions of the Evidence Act should be followed in proving the admissibility of any piece of evidence.Justice Akintoye subsequently adjourned ruling till April 11, 2019. 

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