A Lagos High Court has fixed November 11 and 12 for ruling on whether the prosecution in the Ejigbo torture incident would be allowed to tender video evidence as exhibit.
Judge Oluwatoyin Ipaye said she would take a decision on whether the evidence complied with the Evidence Act.
Ten people were charged with torture, attempted murder and sodomy of three women at Oba Morufu International Market in Ejigbo, a Lagos suburb, in February 2013.
The defendants are accused of stripping the victims naked, rubbing pepper on, and inserting sticks into their genitals after claiming they stole pepper.
They were also accused of obtaining N50,000 from a relative of the victims on the claim that it would be used to repay the traders whose wares were allegedly stolen.
On Wednesday, a prosecution witness, Bassey Uket, tendered before the court a compact disc containing the video of how the incident occurred.
Mr. Uket said that although the incident took place on February 11, 2013, it was not reported to the relevant authorities until December of the same year after the video had gone viral on the internet.
“I know all the defendants in the course of investigation,” said Mr. Uket, as Assistant Superintendent of Police, who was led in evidence by Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecution.
“On January 21, 2014, the Inspector General of Police directed my office to take over the case of indecent assault, grievous body harm and murder that took place on February 11, 2013 at Oba Morufu International Market.
“When the case came up on the internet and caught the attention of a human rights group led by Dr. Joe Odumakin who requested for police investigation into the matter, ASP Ibrahim headed my team.
“We took the case from Ejigbo Police Station, together with Isiaka Waidi (Baba-Oloja of Morufu International Market), Tijani Lateef (Secretary of the market) and Saheed Adisa, including some exhibits for further investigation. The exhibits are two knives, one expended cartridge and two damaged dane guns.”
Mr. Uket said the victims identified the defendants when they were paraded before them.
“During the parade, led by ACP Johnson Oni, all the 10 defendants were brought out for identification by Mrs. Agomo and her daughters, Nike Salami, 12, Juliana Agomo, and one Taye Agomo (assaulted victims). Nike identified the 10th defendant while the two witnesses identified three of the suspects each. At every stage of the parade, the commission’s video man and photographer were recording/taking photographs.”
The prosecution’s attempt to tender the video evidence of the incident was objected by the defence counsel who unanimously stated that it did not comply with Section 84 of the Evidence Act.
“We do not know the content of the disc and the background at which the disc is sought to be tendered violates Section 84 of the Evidence Act,” one of the defence counsels argued.
After listening to counsels’ arguments, Justice Ipaye reserved ruling on the issue till November 11 and 12.
On claims that one of the victims had died, Mr. Uket said that an investigative team – that included the police, interpol, and members of human rights group – travelled to the hometown of the Agomos in Republic of Benin and did not see the victim or where she was buried.
But J. Bashir, counsel to the 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th defendants, during the cross examination of Freeman Agomo, another prosecution witness, said that the alleged deceased was alive in Cotonou.
“Do you know that Juliana (alleged deceased) is now with one Francis in Cotonou?” The lawyer told the witness.
“Do you know that Juliana also gave birth in Cotonou?”
Earlier, during his evidence, Mr. Agomo said the defendants asked him to wait outside as his wife was taken into the room where his daughter was stripped naked and tortured by the defendants who were allegedly OPC members.
He said he heard his wife scream.
Those standing trial include the market leader, Isiaka Waidi, 61; Buhari Yusuf, 22; Abdullahi Haruna, 20; and Saheed Adisa, 29.
Others are the woman leader of the market, Oloruntoyin Dauda, 46; Lateef Tijani, 37; Ahmed Adisa, 65; Azeez Akinosun, 36; Jimoh Busari, 50; and Adekunle Adenuga, 38.
The defendants are facing a 19-count charge bordering on conspiracy, attempted murder, sexual assault, maliciously administering poison, obtaining money by false pretences and deprivation of liberty.