Briton’s murderers’case set for judgement
Friday, June 22, 2012
The Special Criminal Court (SCC) in Banjul, presided over by Justice Emmanuel Nkea has set a date to deliver judgment in the criminal case involving the state against three Nigerian nationals charged with the murder of Ian Stokes, a Briton sometime on or about the 13th May, 2012, at the Bakoteh Junction Baa in the Kanifing Municipality.
The presiding Judge’s decision to deliver judgment on the said matter came following the closure of addresses by both parties in the said matter, who addressed the court orally yesterday, June 21st, 2012. In his address, State Counsel James Odumbi urged the court to convict the accused persons, Micheal Ifunaya Churwbiken, Stanley Agbazee Ugochukwu and Collins Chijioke for the offence of the alleged murder of Ian Stokes, a Briton sometime last month at the Junction Baa, Bakoteh.
The State Counsel submitted that the prosecution has proved the charge against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt. He argued that the accused persons have a common intention to obtain money from the deceased, Ian Stokes on the day of the incident by whatever means. He further argued that the 1st and 2nd accused persons went for the mission, whist the 3rd accused person was a standby for further instructions and as a result he was not at his work place in Bakau but in Serrekunda.
State Counsel Odumbi argued that in the 3rd accused person’s statement he indicated that he was directed to take a taxi to Elton Petrol Station, where he actually met the 1st and 2nd accused persons opposite the said petrol station with the vehicle. He asked why would the 1st accused bring an innocent party to a crime scene, unless the person knows something about the whole deal.
He pointed out that the prosecution relies on the 1st and 2nd accused persons confessional statements which is almost similar to their evidence before the court, adding that there are few variations relating to who actually committed or did the act. State Counsel Odumbi also commented on the conduct of the 1st and 2nd accused persons after the commission of the offence.
At this junction, State Counsel Odumbi asked why did they attempt to flee the jurisdiction instead of reporting the incident to the police. He submitted that under Section 165 of the Evidence Act Sub-section C, the court may presume that the common code of business has been presumed in a particular case. He argued that if the 3rd accused was not aware of the crime, it would have been foolhardy for the 1st accused to summon him to bring fuel to them at the crime scene.
State Counsel further argued that the 3rd accused went to the scene and knew what had happened, adding that they tried to burn the body at the scene so as to destroy evidence. He finally submitted that the prosecution has proved its case beyond all reasonable doubt and urged the court to convict all the accused persons as charged.
In her reply, Lawyer Ngozi Gbuji of the National Legal Aid Agency urged the court to discharge and acquit all the accused persons. She submitted that the prosecution has not proved the charge against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt.
Lawyer Gbuji argued that what needs to be answered is whether the death of the deceased resulted from the act of the accused persons. She further argued that there was no eyewitness account of what led to the death of the deceased, citing PW1, PW2 and PW8 as witnesses who did not know what led to the death of the deceased and they were not at the scene of the crime. She argued that the court can only rely on the confessional statements of the accused persons if it is direct, cogent and unequivocal. She urged the court to attach less weight to the confessional statement of the 1st and 2nd accused persons.
She noted that the testimony of the 1st accused was corroborated by the testimony of the 2nd accused person, adding that the said Mr. Mark and Mr. Fish, the South Africans and the unknown lady were never arrested by the police for questioning. She pointed out that it was the unknown lady who asked the 1st and 2nd accused persons out of the deceased car and to enter the car they came with to the scene of crime. She argued that it is the accused persons testimony that at the point they met the deceased at the crime scene he had already died.
Lawyer Gbuji argued that PW9’s testimony indicated that a pair of lady’s shoes was seen in the vehicle. She submitted that it is trite law that where there is doubt in the prosecution case, the doubt should be resolved in favour of the accused persons. She argued that the testimony of the 3rd accused is not different from the statement at the police.
Lawyer Gbuji submitted that if the 3rd accused knew that he was to bring fuel to the scene of crime, the reasonable thing was for him to have escaped. She argued that the 3rd accused brought fuel to the scene to destroy evidence was not logical, adding that the statement before the court was that he did not know what the fuel was meant for. She said that he brought the fuel mainly because he was doing a favour for the 1st accused person.
She submitted that there was no common intention by the accused persons to prosecute unlawful purpose, adding that from the totality of evidence the prosecution has not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The defence counsel therefore urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused persons. Meanwhile the presiding Judge Justice Emmanuel Nkea adjourned the matter to the 26th June 2012 for judgment.
Author: Sidiq Asemota