Justice T. S. Oji of the Port Harcourt High Court, on Thursday withdrew herself from the ongoing trial of the alleged killers of four students of the University of Port Harcourt. It could be recalled that the quartet of Biringa Chiadika Lordson, Mike Lloyd Toku, Tekena Erikena and Chidiaka Ugonna Kelechi Obuzor met their gruesome and untimely death in the hands of a merciless mob in Aluu community last year.
The case had been at the Port Harcourt Magistrate Court from where it was transferred to the High Court, for lack of jurisdiction. However, at the commencement of proceedings on the matter, the trial judge announced her decision to return the case file to the chief judge.
She observed that the third accused person, Ikechukwu Louis Amadi, out of the 11 accused persons, did not have a lawyer to defend him. The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mr. I. Otorubio, led the state’s team for prosecution.
Those arraigned were; Lawal Segun, Ex-Sergeant Lucky Orji, Ikechukwu Louis Amadi, David Chinasa Ogbada, Abiodun Yusuf, Joshua Ekpe, Abang Cyril, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, Okoghiroh Endurance, Ozioma Abajuo and Chigozie Evans Samuel. The trial judge, however, said her hands were tied in the case because she had close relationship with the two parties, (accused persons and victims) in the matter. According to Justice Oji, “It is safer to send the matter back to the chief judge for re-assignment than favour any party in this matter.
“The accused persons, I know them. The victims I know. My hands are tied in this matter. I am sitting between the devil and deep sea”. While noting that the case had received widespread publicity and had attracted much attention, Justice Oji said, “It is a matter of widespread publication.
“The judiciary wants to maintain its image. It is not a matter of incompetence but because of its sensitive nature. “I will not satisfy anybody. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to have been done. “The Rivers State judiciary has very capable hands to try all matters.”