THE expected proceedings in the application for coroner’s inquest into the alleged murder of Lagos domestic worker, Joy Adole, at Court 5 of Lagos State Magistrate’s Court, Ebutte Metta, again stalled last Wednesday, December 9, 2020 when counsel to the defendant informed the court that the matter had been filed at the Lagos State High Court.
The counsel to the defendant, Joel Nwanchukwu (Esq) argued that the filing of the case at the High Court constitutes a bar in accordance with section 4 of the Coroner Law.
However, human rights lawyer and counsel to the Adole family, Femi Aborisade (Esq), told the court when it sought to know if the family was aware of that development, denied knowledge of the fact that the defendant had been arraigned in court.
Aborisade, Managing Partner of Abope Chambers, while demanding for evidence of the arraignment, further told the court that the family’s requests for the certified true copy of the post-mortem report and the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP’s) Advice have not been met.
According to the human rights lawyer, the application for coroner’s inquest is based upon the certificate of death predicated upon a post-mortem, which stated that the cause of death is unknown for lack of toxicology.
When the presiding Magistrate sought to know the date the arraignment of the defendant took place, Nwanchukwu, the counsel to the defendant revealed that the arraignment has actually not taken place. He rather told the court that the defendant will be arraigned on Thursday, January 21, 2020.
Nwanchukwu said the delay in the arraignment at the last sitting of the court was due to the absence of the defendant and her husband, who is to be charged along with her in accordance with the DPP’s advice.
Nwanchukwu then promised to file a formal application against the coroner’s proceedings and that he would attach all processes filed in the case by the prosecution.
The court adjourned the matter to 23rd February, 2021 pending whether or not the arraignment of the defendants would take place on January 21, 2021 at the High Court.
The court had fixed October 21, 2020 for Coroner’s inquest in the case but had adjourned indefinitely following the #EndSARS protests in October.
Aborisade had sometime last September petitioned the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Lagos State Commissioner of Police as well as the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution raising issues with the conduct of an autopsy conducted on the body of the deceased.
He had demanded for another autopsy to be carried out to ascertain the actual cause of death of the domestic worker.
It will be recalled that on Sunday, April 20, 2020, the Lagos State CID, Alagbon arrested and detained Mr and Mrs Stephen and Fortune Okonkwo, over the death of 19-year-old Joy Okom Adole, their house maid.
Mrs Okonkwo was arraigned on Wednesday, 29th April, 2020 before a Senior Magistrate’s Court sitting at Yaba and was subsequently remanded in prison, where she will be until her arraignment on January 21, 2021 at the High Court.