The trial of a dismissed police sergeant, Samuel Phillips, for the extrajudicial killing of 18-year-old Monsurat Ojuade has suffered a setback.
At the resumed proceedings in the Yaba area of Lagos, the hearing was stalled due to the absence of the Magistrate.
The court registrar told journalists that Chief Magistrate Adeola Adedayo was on a six-week leave and parties agreed to come back before the court on December 14 for the hearing of the case.
Members of the deceased’s family and their lawyers who came to court were sad at the development.
“In the intervening period, I intend to see what we can do, if the matter can be reassigned to another magistrate court while his honour is on leave,” counsel to Monsurat’s family, Israel Mbaebie, said.
Monsurat was said to have been hit by a stray bullet on September 11 while the police were on a criminal raid investigation in the Ijeshatedo area of Lagos. She died on her way to the hospital.
The police, in a charge filed against Sergeant Philips, stated that at the dismissed policeman, about 11:30pm at 53, Mogaji Street Ijeshatedo, unlawfully released gunshots into the building which hit Monsurat on her thighs and led to her death.
Monsurat’s sister, Tosin, specifically alleged that one of the officers tried to force the gate open from the outside and fired shots into the compound, and the bullet hit the deceased on her two thighs.
But the police claimed that the deceased was hit by a stray bullet, adding that the “erring police officer” has been dismissed and detained.
The family through their lawyer, however, insisted that the victim was shot at close range.
At the last sitting of the court in September, the magistrate granted the application made by the prosecutor for the remand of the defendant for 30 days, pending the advice of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).
This was because the magistrate court lacked the jurisdiction to hear a murder charge and the DPP was to recommend that the murder trial be conducted at the State High Court.
After the proceedings, Mbaebie asked the police to change their “stray bullet” narrative as to how Monsurat died.
“…The bullet that killed Monsurat Ojuade was not a stray bullet but a case of premeditated murder on the part of the killer police,” he said.
The lawyer also frowned at the failure of the police to make public the findings of its orderly room trial.