The accused persons — Macaulay Desmond Oghenemaro, Ojokojo Robinson Obajero, Nwosisi Benedict Uche and Enaike Onoriode — took their plea after the charges were read to them by the Court Registrar, and pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Mother of the slain Miss Elozino Ogege, the first class 300 level student of Mass Communication, Delta State University (DELSU) who was gruesomely murdered sometime in November 2018 by suspected ritualists, wept profusely in court on Wednesday as the suspects arraigned before an Asaba High Court pleaded not guilty to the eight-count charge preferred against them by the state Attorney-General.
Mrs. Elizabeth Ogege, was in court to observe proceedings, and she burst into uncontrollable tears demanding for justice immediately the suspects pleaded not guilty in court. She refused to be consoled by the Director of Sexual Offences/Domestic Violence, Uche Akamagwuna, and other sympathizers as she wept profusely, saying “God will avenge the blood of my innocent daughter whose life was cut down in her prime.”
According to the statement of offence in charge No A/2c/2019, count IV of the charge reads “That you, Macaulay Desmond Oghenemaro (m), Ojokojo Robinson Obajero (m), Nwosisi Benedict Uche (m) Enaike Onoriode (m) and one Emese Emudiaga Kelvin now deceased, on or about the 15th day of November, 2018 at Abraka, within the Sapele Criminal Division murdered one Elozino Joshualia Ogege, punishable under Section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code Law Cap C21, Volume 1, Laws of Delta State 2006.”
Other charges contained in the information filed against the defendants include conspiracy to commit a felony to wit: kidnapping punishable under Section 516 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap C21, Volume 1, Laws of Delta State of Nigeria 2006.
The substantive offence of kidnapping punishable under section 4(1) of the Delta State Anti-Kidnapping and Hostage Taking Law, 2016, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and the substantial offence of armed robbery.
The accused persons, according to the charge, robbed one Elozino Joshualia Ogege (f) of her Tecno K7 Mobile phone while armed with a knife and other weapons.
S.C. Okehielem Esq, who announced appearance for the 1st and 2nd defendants, made an oral application for the transfer of the case to Sapele Judicial Division on the ground that the alleged offence was committed in Abraka, which falls within the Sapele judicial division and cited Ibori Vs FRN, Nigeria Weekly Law Report, 2009.
Opposing the application, Omamuzo Erebe Esq., Director of Legal Drafting, who led other Lawyers from the state Ministry of Justice, including the Director of Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence, Uche Akamagwuna Esq, urged the court to dismiss the application as it is frivolous and inapplicable to the case.
He said the state acted under the provision of Section 94 (2), section 99 and section 104 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2017, adding that the Attorney-General of the state, through the DPP, had earlier made an application to the Chief Judge of the State for assumption of jurisdiction, raising security concerns not only for prosecution witnesses but as well as for the accused persons. The application was granted by the Chief Judge and the case assigned before the trial judge to adjudicate.
Ruling on the application for transfer of the case to Sapele Judicial Division, the trial Judge, Justice Flora Ngozi Azinge, dismissed the application, saying that it was unmeritorious and holding that the case was before a proper venue to entertain the matter.
Justice Azinge further ruled that the High Court of Delta State is one, and that the Administration of the Criminal Justice Law, which governs Criminal matters in the state, has empowered the Chief Judge to transfer any case from one criminal division to other.
The matter was adjourned to April 30 and May 15 respectively for hearing.
Meanwhile, a few days ago, Mrs. Ogege had cried out to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa a few days ago to keep to his earlier promise of speedy justice for her daughter.
In a letter entitled ‘An Open Letter To The Governor Of Delta State From The Mother Of Late Miss. Elozino Ogege’, addressed to Okowa and obtained by SaharaReporters, she lamented the “slow and unfair proceedings so far from the court handling the matter” and appealed to the Governor to find time and pay a condolence visit to the family of the deceased.