…….Deceased pubic area was badly damaged
By Aishat Momoh. O.
At the resumed hearing of the case before Justice Sherifat Sonaike of the Lagos High Court, sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, one of the witnesses identified as Ikegwueomu Chukwurah, a business manager with First Bank, said that he was in court to present an account statement of one Maryjane Odezule, who is an alleged assault victim of the suspect.
Mr Andrew Nice Ominikoron is accused of raping and murdering a 22-year-old fashion designer, Bamise Ayanwola, who boarded a BRT bus from Chevron bus-stop, Lekki-Ajah Expressway enroute Oshodi last February.
He is also accused of raping another passenger, Maryjane Odezelu, on 25 November last year.
According to the witness, who testified on Thursday, he said that on the 25th of November, Ominikoron Nice had sent some funds into the customer’s (Maryjane) account.
“There was a credit deposit from Ominikoron Nice to the beneficiary (Mary Odezulu) account.” he said.
During cross-examination, he stated that a customer does not need to provide proof of work in order to create a savings account with the bank.
Mr. Chukwurah concurred with the lawyer’s claim that all deposits made into the account were taken out right away.
“From the entries in that statement, since the inception there has not been a meaningful deposit of above N15000,” the lawyer asked.
The witness gave a negative response to the question asked. H seaid, “On 19th of October, there was a deposit of N30,000 and on 22nd of October N24,000”.
“Those are the only meaningful deposits ,” the lawyer asked.
“During the period, yes,” the witness replied.
However, Mr Omotubora objected to the testimony of the First Bank official stating that the witness was not listed in the list of witnesses to be called.
He said that the prosecution is bringing a surprise on the defendant. “It is a capital (offence) trial. My lord, with due respect to the learned silk who I hold in high esteem that the state cannot afford to be shopping for witnesses,” he added.
But the prosecution led by the state attorney-general, Moyosore Onigbanjo said that Mr Omotubora’s objection “is misconstrued and unfounded.”
He added that the witness was called upon by the court on 10 May “to come and testify or tender documents.”
He asked the court to “debunk the submission that the defence is taken by surprise” and dismiss his objection.
But the judge discountenanced the defence lawyer’s objection.
The Judge however, admitted and marked the bank account statement as Exhibit 7.
Another Exhibit is the Whatsapp Voice Note between Bamise and another person identified by the court as her friend, Felicia.
“The Voice Note is listed to be number 10 on the notice of additional evidence dated 6th of May, 2022. Marked as Exhibit A and 8a respectively.” The judge added.
Another is the statement written by her brother Pelumi Ayanwola, at the police station. The court labelled that as Exhibit 9.
When the second witness was called in, he told the court that the deceased’s pubic area was found “damaged.”
Ayanwola Oluwapelumi Caleb, the deceased’s brother, made that statement while giving his testimony in court.
According to him, the deceased was the last child of ten children.
He further added that on 27 February 2022 which was on a Sunday, he received a call from his Daniel, who is based in Kano asking for their sister.
“ When my brother called me to ask if I had seen Bamise, I told him that I was not at home but I would make a call to confirm if she has gotten to my house because she had a spare key to my apartment. I called home to find out if she was there and was told that she wasn’t. And her friend told me that Bamise was coming to my house on a surprise visit in order to be with my wife, who was heavily pregnant” he said.
“Later on, her friend Felicia, told me that something happened while she was on the bus and she confirmed that it was a BRT bus. And I said that if she took the BRT bus she would be safe.”
Mr Pelumi told the court that he became alarmed when her friend sent the voice note they had shared on WhatsApp before they lost track of her.
“So, I called my sister to report at the station,” he said.
On Monday, we went to the BRT station- Terminal Three to report the matter but was directed to the Lagos Bus Service Limited (LBSL).
“We were referred to two CSOs (Chief Security Officer) and they said that none of the drivers reported a case of a missing person,” he said.
“And I asked to have access to their CCTV so that we can know what transpired in their vehicle,” he said.
He further said that the officials told him to get a police report in order to access their CCTV.
He said that they were “badly treated” at the police division and had to go back to the LBSL where one Mr Aluko admitted that a bus driver was missing.
He said that he wrote a letter to the office of the Commissioner for Transportation, the Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and the State House of Assembly.
He said they reported the matter at the Jakande police division and the police boss said that it was no longer a case of a missing person but a kidnap case.
“Some guys on social media said we should release the phone number of Bamise to them because they wanted to track her number. After some time, they told us that we should go to Shagamu,” he said.
“After some time, they said the phone has left that vicinity and is around Ososa village. We couldn’t find my sister.
“On March 7, someone said we should go and check Ebute-Ero police station. On getting there, we showed them the picture of my sister. My sister died on the night of 26 and the police took over the body.
“She was coming to my house, she was the only one who knew when my wife would deliver. She died because she was coming to my house,” he said amidst tears.
He said that he found his sister’s body at the morgue where it was tagged unknown. “Not up to 30 minutes after, my brother called and the driver of the vehicle was apprehended.”
During the court proceedings, while Mr Pelumi was giving his testimony, the voice note exchanged by the deceased and her friend was admitted as evidence.
In the voice note exchange, the deceased said that she was alone in the bus, that the driver had refused to pick up other passengers.
Later she sent another voice message that the driver had taken a lady and three males into the bus.
Then the friend sent a message asking if she had gotten to her bus-stop but the message wasn’t answered.
Describing the “damaged” pubic area, Mr Ayanwola said that “I saw traces of blood on that part.”
During cross-examination, the defence lawyer, Abayomi Omotubora, asked that he explain what he meant by “damaged lower part.”
“She was a virgin. She was badly raped by maybe two or three men and you want me to describe that? I will not do that,” the witness responded.
Recall that during the last hearing, Mr Omotubora had appeared late in court. He however, apologized “for coming late”,
He said that it was due to the unprecedented traffic jams on his way from Ikorodu where he lives.
But the judge, Sherifat Sonaike informed him that since he has refused to attend the court, she has directed someone else to take his position.
“I just want to serve a note of warning. Now, after today, if you fail to attend any of the court proceedings. I will report you to the NBA and if you come back thereafter I will report to the appropriate authority, she said.
“You’re here to protect him. If you decide not to appear in court, … a slightest ruling in court can take his liberty away.”
The judge said that his repeated absence is a sign of disrespect to the court.
“My Lord did not hear from me before concluding that I disrespected the court,” the lawyer replied.
But the judge fired back and said “once you have taken up a matter, you will take it to a logical conclusion. Or else I will take it to the NBA disciplinary committee.”
The lawyer responded, “the disciplinary committee of the NBA will hear me.”
At the end of the proceedings, Mr Omotubora apologised to the court for his repeated absence.
Justice Sherifat Sonaike adjourned to 25th and 31st of October, 2022 for further hearing.