Lack of legal representation stalls Port Harcourt murder trial

By Alex Olise

Lack of legal representation for three accused persons in the ongoing trial of the murder of one Chidi Onwukwe has stalled court trial of the accused persons in the matter.

Both Samuel Onwukwe (1st defendant) Andrew Epai Otanye (2nd defendant), Samuel Emmason (3rd defendant), Promise George (4th defendant) and Blessed Onyekachi, are standing trial in charge sheet PHC/667/CR/2022, in a state High Court sitting in Port Harcourt over their alleged involvement in the killing of Chidi Onwukwe.

At the resumed sitting on the matter, the first and 3rd defendants informed the court that they could not present legal representations, while the fourth was not in court.

The court also declined the move by Jane Okpamen, counsel for the second defendant to stand in for all the suspects in the murder trial.

Essien Edet, the prosecutor had notified the court that the prosecution had an amended charge against the suspects.

Edet applied to the court orally to substitute the initial charge filed with the amended charge. However, the trial judge, Justice Sylvester Popnen, sought for adjournment to allow the defendants get legal representations.

Popnen further declined the withdrawal of that initial charge, at the point, pending when the defendants get their legal representatives.

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The judge noted that the purpose was for the legal representatives of all the parties to be acquainted with the process, and thereafter plea could be taken after the substitution.

The trial judge adjourned the matter till 28th of July and urged the suspects to be available in court on the adjourned date and get legal representation.

Meanwhile, speaking outside the court room, Prof A. Amuda-Kannike, A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who is holding a watching brief for the Complainant, disclosed that they have applied for fiat, but that they would work with the police prosecution in the matter.

Amuda-Kannike, a professor of law at Kwara State University, noted that while they waited on the court to grant the fiat that the prosecution could continue with the matter.

He expressed confidence in the ability of court to deliver justice in the matter, adding that they were now satisfied because the suspects have been brought to court.

The SAN said that the presiding judge adjourned till 28th to ensure that the suspects are given fair hearing, adding that the process would have commenced without waiting for any of their lawyers.

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