The absence of a prosecution witness has stalled the murder trial of dockworker Lekan Shonde, who allegedly beat his wife to death at their Lagos home two years ago.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state was scheduled to open its case against Shonde, 51, on Tuesday at an Ikeja High Court.
The prosecution led by Mr T. M. Ashafa, however, informed court that the first prosecution witness was unavailable.
“Our witness that was supposed to come today informed us that she was ill and would be unable to come.
“In the circumstance, we will be asking for a further date to enable us bring our witness,” Ashafa said.
Responding to the state’s claim, Mr Robert Clarke (SAN), Shonde’s Defence Counsel, registered his displeasure over the development.
He said: “There are instances where apologies are completely meaningless, this is just one of those instances.
“My lord, nine witnesses have been slated as potential witnesses in the proof of evidence.
“This matter has been on for two years and the most important witness is the medical doctor that gave the post mortem, as this allegedly happened in the bedroom and there were no eyewitnesses.
“The medical doctor is a government official and with the greatest respect, may I seek the order of court that the first witness should now be the pathologist as that is the only witness that this court wants to listen to.”
Acceding to Clarke’s request, Justice Josephine Oyefeso gave an order that a witness summons should be issued to a pathologist.
“The witness summons to Dr S. S. Soyele is to ensure the medical doctor testifies as the first prosecution witness on the next court date.
“Prosecution must get its act together and exercise due diligence as expected, witness summons is hereby issued on the pathologist, Dr S. S. Soyele.
“The case is adjourned to Sep. 20 and Oct. 3 for trial,” the judge said.
Shonde had previously been arraigned in the high court on Oct. 24, 2017 on a charge of murder, and had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The prosecution had alleged that Shonde committed the offence at 8.30 p.m. on May 5, 2016 at his No. 3, Tiemo Close in Egbeda, near Lagos.
According to court documents, Shonde was involved in an altercation with his wife, Ronke which led to her death.
After Ronke’s death, the dockworker allegedly locked up the home and fled, leaving his spouse’s corpse in the living room.
The crime scene was discovered by neighbours, who heard the cries of their two young children, struggling to “wake up” the lifeless body of their mother.
Shonde was said to have surrendered to the authorities five days later, after an extensive manhunt.