A mild drama ensued in the Edo State High Court of Justice, Criminal Court 4, Benin City on Friday, October 15th, 2021 where the Iyatsere of Warri Kingdom, Chief Johnson Atseruleghe and some of his associates are facing prosecution in a case of conspiracy, kidnap and murder brought against them.
Noticing that the NTA crew were recording his activities in the court premises, Chief Atseruleghe unleashed his thugs on the hapless journalists. It took the timely intervention of some court staff, lawyers and colleagues of the NTA crew before reprieve could come for the journalists.
Meanwhile, at the sitting in the case against Chief Johnson Atseruleghe and 8 Others over alleged conspiracy, kidnapping and murder of Sunny Etchie, the Okaeghele of Kolokolo Community in Ologbo Dukedom of Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of Edo State the Prosecuting Team led by Mrs. Osasu Ewemande, called its 3rd Witness (PW3), Sergeant Otoibhili Marvelous to the dock. The witness was one of the policemen that investigated the alleged murder of Sunny Etchie and recorded the statement of the 9th Defendant.
In the middle of PW3’s testimony, counsel to the 9th Defendant, O. T. Okeke objected to the admisability of the statement of the 9th Defendant. His ground of objection being that the 9th Defendant claimed that his statement was not given voluntary. Claiming that it was given under duress.
As a result of the objection, the court presided over by Justice Mary Ituseli then ordered for trial within trial to verify the voluntariness of the statement of the 9th Defendant.
PW3 told the court that the evidence of the 9th Defendant was voluntarily, adding that it was taken from him under a conducive environment and fully air-conditioned room and as such there was no element of intimidation.
The presiding judge then gave a date for the other policeman that was also a member of the investigating team, Inspector Aigbe, to come and collaborate that the evidence was voluntary as claimed by PW3.
Justice Mary Ituseli, the Presiding Judge, then adjourned the case to Friday, November 5th, 2021 for continuation of trial within trial.
On the bail application by O. T. Okeke. counsel to the 1st Defendant, (Oluwa Esimije) – the ruling was delivered in favour of the 3rd Defendant. The court then grant the bail application with the sum of N2 million and a surety who must be a civil servant residing in Edo State.
All the eight accused persons Chief Johnson Atseruleghe, the Iyatsere of Warri; Felicia Otikpere(female) – 55; Oluwa Esimije – 38; Monday Iluwa – 58; Ayokotse Robinson – 54; Nosa Omoregie – 54; Mofe Samuel – 40; Magnanimous Omawumi – 40; Ayuwa Mofe – 65, Amerete Ejiro – 25, Onyeburutan Jeffrey – 25 and Benjamin Erewa – 39 were present in court.