The trial of an undergraduate, Chidinma Ojukwu, for the murder of Usifo Ataga, Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, was on Thursday stalled due to a change of counsel.
Ms Ojukwu is standing trial before a Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square.
She is charged with murder, stealing, and forgery alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.
On Thursday, a lawyer from the Office of the Public Defender, J. I. Osagede, appeared for the third defendant, Ms Egbuchu.
Mrs Osagede, who stood in for her colleague, Ms Egbuchu’s former counsel, A. O. Ogunsanya, informed the court that the third defendant wrote to the office about her desire to change counsel.
Thereafter, Ngozi Akandu, announced appearance as the new counsel for the third defendant.
Mr Akandu told the court that he was briefed on Wednesday, adding that court documents given to him were not clear.
He said that he would need clear copies and more time to study the documents.
In her response, prosecution counsel, Adenike Oluwafemi, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “The rule of fair hearing is that litigants are free to get any counsel of their choice.”
Ms Ojukwu’s counsel, Onwuka Egwu, did not object to the change of counsel.
He said, “In the interest of justice, we will concede to their request, but they should tidy their house before the next adjourned date.”
Justice Yetunde Adesanya adjourned the case until May 16 for the continuation of trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on the last adjourned date, the ninth prosecution witness, Olusegun Bamidele, a deputy superintendent of police, testified how they arrested Ms Ojukwu.
Mr Bamidele said the Intelligence and Tactical Unit of the State Criminal Investigating Department (SCID) Yaba, tracked Ojukwu down at No. 57, Akinwunmi St., Alagomeji, Yaba.
NAN reports that the three defendants were arraigned on October 12, 2021, on a nine-count charge brought against them by Lagos State Government.
Messrs Ojukwu and Quadri are facing the first to eight counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, making of bank statements, and stealing.
The third defendant, Ms Egbuchu, is facing the ninth count – stealing of iPhone 7 belonging to the late Mr Ataga.
Messrs Ojukwu and Quadri are alleged to have conspired and murdered Mr Ataga on June 15, 2021, by stabbing him several times with a knife on the neck and chest.
The alleged murder took place at 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
The duo was also accused of committing forgery by procuring and making bank account statements purported to have been made by the deceased.