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Missing Olu Crown: Prosecution Counsels Express Fear Over Magistrate’s Neutrality

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Prosecution counsels in the case involving Chief Ayirimi Emami and the Commissioner of Police have expressed lack of confidence on the neutrality of the Magistrate trying the matter at the Warri South Magistrate Court.

The aggrieved counsels consequently want the case to be tried by another Magistrate in the court, alleging bias by the presiding Magistrate Ejiro Diejomaoh (Mrs).

Diejomaoh had, on Wednesday, adjourned hearing on the pending motion till July 5, 2022 after a heated argument between counsels to the prosection and the defendant.

“Prosecution is not confident of the neutrality of the Magistrate and does want the matter tried by her but by any other Magistrate,” the prosecuting counsel said.

Emami, who appeared as defendant on Charge Number: MW/175/C/2021, had Chief Victor Otomewo as lead counsel while Mr J. Ikomi and others made appearances for the Prosecution.

At the resumption of proceedings, Ikomi told the court that he had another application to be allowed to take evidence by oath to make for faster proceedings.

This application was vehemently opposed by the defence counsel, Chief Otomewo, arguing that there was no provision for the use of Statement on Oath at the Magistrate’s Court.

Counsel to Prosecution informed court that the provisions of Section 255 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, Delta State as well as the Evidence Act to which it refers allows it.

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According to the Prosecution counsel, the prosecution witness was on a security assignment and so could not appear in court and the matter was consequently adjourned for rulings as shown in the records of the court.

Following the prosecution’s submission, Otomewo said that there were some lawyers whose names were not in the Fiat, stressing that they always came to court because they had no job to do.

Angered by Otomewo’s comment, Chief Robinson Ariyo, who is a Chief at the Palace of the Olu of Warri Kingdom, warned Chief Otomewo never to make such insinuating remarks about him or he would receive an insult.

In a swift response, the Magistrate asked if Chief Ariyo had any case in the court and if not, he should leave, insisting that she would not recognise Ariyo as a Chief.

Responding, Chief Ariyo informed the Court that he was one of the nominal complainants in the matter being a Chief in the Palace and the Council of Chiefs being the body that wrote the Petition.

It will be recalled that ever since the matter commenced, the Magistrate had continued to target Chief Ariyo, refusing to either call him a Chief or record him with the suffix, Chief.

It is also on record that the Magistrate had never recorded Chief Ariyo as a Chief even though Chief Ariyo announces himself as such.

According to the prosecution counsel, the refusal of Magistrate Diejomaoh to recognise Ariyo as a Chief, while according Otomewo as a Chief, was an indication that she was playing ethnic politics having served as a Lawyer under Chief Otomewo.

The Prosecution counsels, however, said that they had tried to distinguish between an objection arising from the lack of neutrality of a court and other forms of objection.

According to them, this goes to the root of lack of fair haring arising from the developments and decisions in the case.

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