Hearing in the case of kidnap and murder of late Obi Akaeze Ofulue III of Ubulu-Uku in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State on Tuesday was stalled by the absence of the defence counsel.
This is coming as the trial judge, Justice M.O. Omovie ,of the High Court, Ibusa, Delta State, inexplicably prevented journalists from covering the kidnap and murder case in his court.
In the suit A/20C/2017 and A/198/2017 between the State versus Jamilo Ahmed and three others, Justice Omovie had to adjourn to April 28, 2021 for the next hearing due to the failure of the defence counsel to appear for the accused persons.
Four suspects are standing trial for the murder of the late monarch who was kidnapped and then murdered in 2016.
The suspects were allegedly apprehended by security operatives in various parts of the country with the recovery of the monarch’s stolen phone leading to the arrest of the suspects.
Before the commencement of the proceedings, Justice Omoke ordered journalists to leave the court.
The court Registrar came to inform journalists that their presence in the court was deemed detrimental by the presiding judge and should leave or get permit from the Chief Judge of the State before they can be allowed to cover the proceedings.
The dozens of journalists who were in the court to cover the hearing in the kidnap and murder case of late Obi Akaeze Ofulue III of Ubulu-Uku, were bewildered at the judge’s decision to prevent them from covering the proceedings for the day.
Lawyers and members of the public at the court premises were equally shocked at the decision of Justice Omovie.
Those who spoke on account of anonymity expressed their disbelief that a judge of the High Court could descend so low as to give such an order.
They noted that journalists are very important in dissemination of information to the general public and court proceedings are not left out.
They urged the Chief Judge of Delta State, Justice Marshall Umukoro, to call Justice Omovie to order, noting that his action amounted to impeding the dispensation of justice.
According to them, the case is high profile one involving the kidnap and murder of a prominent traditional ruler.
“The case has been going on for four years and I wonder the judge should be uncomfortable with the presence of media practitioners”, one of the journalists said.
Speaking to newsmen at the court premises, Chief Ojeigwu of Ubulu-Uku Kingdom, Dr. Samuel Nwabuoke, lamented the gruesome murder of the late monarch, adding that the incident still torments the entire community till date.
He expressed the belief that justice would be served at the end.
Speaking in the same vein, the President-General of Ubulu-Uku Development Council, Sir Jonathan Monye, noted that even though the trial has been lingering since 2016, the people of Ubulu-Uku will not relent ine the quest for justice, noting that since the abduction and killing of the royal, the town had nit know peace.
According to Monye who is also a lawyer, murderous cattle herders have continued to terrorise the community kidnapping, raping women, destroying farmlands and killing farmers. He called for increased security presence in the community.