BY GBENGA OLARINOYE
LAGOS—Justice Ebenezer Adebajo of a Lagos High Court in Igbosere yesterday tongue-lashed a lawyer, over what he described as no professional responsibility over clients.
Usman Izuagie, whose client is facing a two-count charge of armed robbery, asked the court to enter a trial within trial to ascertain whether the statement of the defendant was obtained as required by the law.
He argued that the statement was obtained under torture and duress, adding that it was not a true statement made by the defendant.
The trial judge, Justice Ebenezer Adebajo, then asked Izuagie; “What steps did you take on the veracity of the allegation of torture brought before this court?”
Izuagie maintained that he is not aware in law that as a counsel of a defendant he has the responsibility to ascertain the veracity of allegation of a statement that was taken under duress by the police, until the defendant gives evidence in respect of how the statement was obtained.
Justice Adebajo ruled that the counsel holds no professional responsibility in the defendant, adding “It is the failure of ethics for lawyers coming to court with allegation of torture without the counsel having taken steps on the veracity of the allegation.”
The evidence of the prosecution witness (Insp. Sowemimo Banjoko) who commenced giving evidence on March 8, 2011, was subsequently taken.
However, the trial within trial was closed when the court asked Izuagie if the defendant can give evidence and he answered no, saying his client was having running stomach.
“There has not been any demonstration of running stomach by the 2nd defendant. The warders have not been taking him to the toilet. The statement of the 2nd defendant obtained on June 21, 2008 and that of the 1st defendant obtained on June 19, 2008 are admissible and marked as exhibit E3 and E4” the judge ruled.
Justice Adebajo adjourned the case to March 5 to allow the prosecutor serve the defence counsel any further document needed to be included in the proof of evidence.
The defendant, Tijani Idris-31 and Yinka Ahmed-24, were accused by Lagos state to have on June 19, 2008 along Badagry Expressway, while armed with a pistol, robbed one Benedict Victor of N6,400 and three mobile phones.