By Onozure Dania
The defence counsel to a female lawyer, Udeme Otike-Odibi, accused of killing her husband and cutting his manhood, yesterday, filed an application for an order of court rejecting Udeme’s confessional statements.
Udeme through her counsel, Mr. Oluseye Banjoko, made the application before a Lagos High Court, sitting at Igbosere, to stop the court from conducting a trial within trial to determine the admissibility of two statements made by the defendant during police investigations.
Udeme was arraigned on June 13, 2018 on a two-count charge of murder and misconduct with regard to a corpse, by Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, Titilayo Shitta-Bey.
The prosecutor, alleged that Udeme stabbed Symphorosa Otike-Odibi, also a lawyer, to death and mutilated his corpse by cutting off his genitals, on May 3, 2018, at their Diamond Estate, Sangotedo, Lekki, Lagos home.
Titi Shitta-Bey said the offences is punishable under sections 165 (b) and 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
However Udeme pleaded not guilty but was remanded in prison custody.
At the last adjourned date on January 23, the court fixed February 25(yesterday), to conduct a trial within trial to determine the admissibility of the defendant’s confessional statements.
At the resumed hearing, of the matter yesterday, the defendant’s counsel urged the court not to conduct the trial within trial.
Banjoko said the constitution made provisions that the statement of any person arrested must be made in the presence of a legal practitioner or must be videoed.
He cited Section 93 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, ACJL, of Lagos State 2015, which made it mandatory that to achieve transparency in statements taken, the constitution must be followed.
“Our application is for an order rejecting the alleged confessional statement, an order making the alleged confessional statement inadmissible and any other order of the court,” Banjoko stated.
In her reply, the prosecutor said the provision of the constitution stated that the substantive law to be adhered to in determining the admissibility of any evidence was the Evidence Act 2011.
Shitta-Bey said the ACJL which was referred to by the defense counsel, “is a procedural law which cannot supersede the Evidence Act.”
She referred the court to a Court of Appeal case which was decided in April 2018, Chijioke Emmanuel Vs Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The prosecutor said the appeal court in that case stated that the provision of the Evidence Act should be followed to determine the admissibility of any piece of evidence.
She said the court of appeal went further to state that Section 93 of ACJL is only relevant to the weight to be attached to the admissibility of any evidence after a trial within trial had been conducted.
Shitta-Bey, however, said: “The court should be allowed to proceed with the trial within trial to determine the admissibility of the defendant’s statements.
However, the defendance could not go on with its reply on points of law.
Consequently Justice Adedayo Akintoye adjourned the case until March 21, for further hearing.
On January 23, the ninth prosecution witness, ASP Olusegun Bamidele, told the court that Udeme allegedly confessed to killing her lawyer husband Symphorosa and cutting his manhood.
Bamidele told the court that he was the head of a team that investigated the killing and that he personally recorded the defendant’s statement.
He said it was at the police hospital, during an interactive session, that Udeme wrote a detailed confessional statement.
He said the defendant spoke freely after identifying herself as a lawyer.
But when Shitta-Bey sought to tender the two statements which Udeme allegedly made to the police, her counsel opposed the admissibility of the statements.