A change of counsel by one of the defendants on Thursday stalled proceedings in the murder trial of the Chief Executive Officer of Super Tv, Usifo Ataga.
Chidinma Ojukwu, who is the key suspect, is standing trial alongside one Adedapo Quadri and a third defendant, Chioma Egbuchu, on a nine count charge bordering on conspiracy, murder, forgery, stealing and being in possession of stolen property.
They had all pleaded not guilty.
But the trial could not continue on Thursday at the Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, because one of the lawyers told Justice Yetunde Adesanya that Chioma was no longer represented by the Office of the Public Defender.
The lawyer, who identified herself as J. I. Osaigede, said that the third defendant had written the OPD that she that she no longer needed their services.
The new counsel, Ngozi Akandu, who announced appearance for the third defendant, pleaded for more time to go through the case file having just been briefed about the proceedings.
The lawyer said, “I understand that trial has commenced, but I humbly apply and urge the court to give me time to study the case file, and also for the prosecution to avail me the clearer copies of the proof of evidence so that I can come in properly”.
The prosecution counsel, Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Adenike Oluwafemi did not object. She noted that the rule of fair hearing allows litigants to get any counsel of their choice.
There was also no objections from counsel to the first and second defendant.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya, subsequently adjourned the case till May 16, 2022, for continuation of trial.
The three defendants were arraigned on October, 12, 2021, on a nine-count charge preferred against them by Lagos State Government.
Ojukwu and Quadri are facing the first to eight counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, making of bank statements and stealing.
The third defendant, Egbuchu, is facing the ninth count – stealing of iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.
Ojukwu and Quadri are alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on June 15, 2021, by stabbing him several times with a knife on the neck and chest.
The alleged murder took place at 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
The duo were also accused of committing forgery by procuring bank account statements purported to have been made by the deceased.