Justice Sherifat Sonaike of the Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, on Thursday, ordered the Bus Rapid Transit vehicle driver, Andrew Ominnikoron, who allegedly raped and murdered 22-year-old fashion designer, Oluwabamise Ayanwola, to get a lawyer.

Sonaike made the order following the absence of the defence counsel, Abayomi Omotubora.

The judge in her ruling said, “I have listened to the Attorney-General, and considering the face of the charge, I shall be directing at this stage that the defendant should avail himself a lawyer to continue conduct his trial on the next adjourned date.

“If he is unable to avail himself a lawyer on the next adjourned date, I will direct that the Legal Aid Council should take up his case.

“The defendant’s counsel, Omotubora, has been absent from court on several occasions.

“This is unbecoming of a lawyer of this noble profession; this particular counsel has failed to come to court to conduct his trial and this court strongly condemns it.”

Omotubora has been absent from court five consecutive times.

But on the last adjourned date, June 30, the court ordered that the junior counsel from his chamber should conduct his defence.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, the defendant’s counsel, Omotubora, was also not in court.

Earlier, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, who announced his appearance for the prosecution, leading the Director of Public Prosecutions, Dr. Babajide Martins, and the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Adebayo Haroun, told the court that the matter was for continuation of trial.

After announcing his appearance, the defendant was also not represented.

Onigbanjo, SAN, said, “The matter was adjourned till today on June 30, 2022, in the presence of counsel for the defence. This morning again, the defence is not represented. I will be urging the court to ask the defendant for the whereabouts of his counsel before I make any necessary application.”

However, when the court asked the defendant the whereabouts of his counsel, Ominnikoron said, “I was not able to reach him. I am not aware that my counsel will not be in court today.”

The learned silk told the court that the prosecution was ready to go on with its case.

He informed the court that there were five witnesses in court to give evidence.

Justice Sonaike asked the defendant if he could defend himself, and Ominnikoron replied that he was ready to defend himself.

But Onigbanjo said, “Even though the defendant said he can defend himself, I will say the court should tread with caution. I will urge the court to appoint OPD or LAC, to take over the defence and represent; I want a fair trial.”

Consequently, Justice Sonaike adjourned the case till September 28 for the continuation of the trial.

Omininikoron is facing four counts of conspiracy, rape, and murder of Ayanwola contrary to and punishable under sections 411, 223, 260, and 165 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

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