By Romanus Okoye, Lagos
A Lagos State High Court judge, Justice Josephine Oyefeso, ruled on Monday that a boat driver, Happiness Elebiju, has a case to answer over the death of 13 passengers in a boat mishap that occurred on July 29, 2020, on the Kirikiri waterways.
Justice Oyefeso, in her ruling in the no-case submission filed by the defendant, said: ‘I have considered the totality of the evidence deduced and I find that there are many questions begging for answers. The defendant indeed does have a case to answer. I overrule the no-case submission and call on the defendant to open his case.’
The matter has been adjourned until April 14 for the defence to open its case.
Elebiju is charged with eleven-count charge bordering on manslaughter and operating a boat without a license.
Five prosecution witnesses testified before the prosecution closed its case on February 4. The boat mishap allegedly occurred at 5:45 pm on July 29, 2020, on the Kirikiri waterways when the defendant’s boat conveying 20 passengers capsized, killing 13 persons including two children.
According to the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi, Elebiju drove his boat, with the inscription “Mount Zion Transport” in a reckless and dangerous manner causing the death of some of the passengers.
Elebiju had on March 18 filed a no-case submission through his counsel, Mr Samuel Ogungbamila.
Ogungbamila had told the court to discharge the defendant noting that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against his client. The DPP had, however, opposed the defendant’s application.