Senior Urhobo lawyers storm court as Yunusa Dahiru is remanded in prison
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Several Urhobo lawyers led by Mr. Albert Akpomudje, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN), on Tuesday stormed the Federal High Court in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, in support of Ese Oruru, who was allegedly abducted, sexually abused and impregnated by Yunusa Dahiru, a Kano indigene.
Akpomudje, National Secretary of the Urhobo Progressives Union (UPU), the apex body of the Urhobo ethnic nationality, who announced his appearance before the trial judge, Justice Aliya Nganjiwa, said he was representing the Urhobo interest in the matter.
Delta State, from where Miss Oruru hails, and Bayelsa State, where she currently lives, have recently come under heavy criticism over the lackadaisical manner they have approached the case which has drawn global attention.
Also in court to lend their support to 14-year-old Oruru who was absent in court, were the president of the youth wing of the organisation, Mr. Ovie Anthony, and the women wing leader, Mrs Grace Usirare.
Akpomudje, a life member of the Body of Benchers, expressed his satisfaction with the handling of the matter by the prosecution counsel, noting that he would formally write the Inspector General of Police (IG), to join the prosecution team.
“Our interest in this case, like I told the court, is that wherever any indigene of Urhobo is affected in anyway, it is the responsibility of UPU to come in and protect that person. I think the prosecution did very well because I thought I was going to take over but what he has done, he did very well,” he said on the sidelines of the court session.
Anthony, youth leader of the UPU, told THISDAY that the UPU decided to wade into the case considering the sensitivity of the matter and the way it was being handled.
“When we weigh the issue and the way the matter was being handled, the UPU as the apex body of the Urhobo people, thought itswise that we should come in so that we can argue the case properly, so that another Urhobo daughter or any other person will not be a victim of what has happened to Ese Oruru,” he said.
However, in the court room, Justice Nganjiwa adjourned trial until May 12, 2016, to determine ruling on secret trial for the teenager.
Nganjiwa said the interest of the court was to ensure that justice prevailed in the matter.
Earlier in his argument, the police prosecution team led by Kenneth Dike, affirmed that it was the constitutional right of the victim (Ese) to get “fair trial.”
Dike, in an eleven paragraph affidavit to support his motion, cited Section 36 Subsection 4, arguing that Oruru was a child under 18 years.
“For the interest of justice, we must protect her image and future; we are seeking the leave of the court to take the evidence of the victim in private, excluding every other persons except the parties and the counsel,” he said.
But the lead defence counsel, Mr. Kayode Olaosebikan, who opposed the application of prosecution counsel, said there was no merit in taking evidence in private.
He urged the court to dismiss the application for lack of merit, describing it as an attempt to secure a conviction before calling on any witness, since the age of the victim is also a matter for trial.
According to him, the pictures of the victim, Oruru, were already all over the internet, print and electronic media.
Outside the court room, Olaosebikan noted that it was wrong for the prosecution to ask for private trial from the alleged victim, noting that what the team wants to prevent which has already taken place.
“What we have just told the court is basically what they are seeking to prevent has already happened. The prosecution is saying that they do not want the media to be in the know, they do not want the face of the girl to be in the media, they do not want the media to cover Ese trial.
“But our own position is that that ship has already sailed; the face of the girl is already in all media outlets you can see in this world. If you log on to the Internet now, you will be amazed. The last time I checked, I was shocked.
“I Just typed ‘Ese Oruru’, I had over 95,000 links. So, why are they now coming to tell us that they do not want the girl’s face in the media,” he said.
On why his client remains in prison custody, the lawyer noted that Yunusa has not been able to meet the bail conditions because of the peculiarity of the conditions.
According to Olaosebekan, the publicity the case has generated and the bail condition which demands that the sureties must be resident in the jurisdiction of the court had been scaring away individuals who would have served as sureties.
“We have not been able to meet the conditions the court gave us such as the sureties must be resident here. So, it is such that when we get somebody to perfect the bail, they will say, Dahiru, that boy that kidnapped our daughter, they will say, no.
“That is the problem we are having. So, I think there are legal procedures we have to follow to come back to court with necessary applications,” he noted
Decked in a green traditional attire, Dahiru, who until now hasn’t met his bail condition was later taken back to the prison.
Justice Nganjiwa had on March 20, granted the accused person bail in the sum of N3 million and two sureties in like sum, who must be resident in the jurisdiction of the court, with one of the sureties a renowned title holder in the community and the other a public servant from level 12 and above.