A Lagos High Court was yesterday told why the trial of those accused of killing a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant Funsho Williams seven years ago is being delayed.
A prosecution witness told court that the delay was caused by the destruction of some exhibits brought by an expert pathologist, who conducted a post-mortem on the deceased
The exhibits, he said, went bad because of epileptic power supply.
Ovie Oyokomino, a Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Forensics at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, told Justice Adeniyi Adebajo that “the perishable evidence such as blood samples as well as the vitrous humour of the eye went bad due to interrupted power supply in the course of refrigerating.”
Six defendants, Bulama Kolo, Musa Maina, David Cassidy, Tuna Sonani, Mustapha Kayode and Okponwasa Imariabie, are standing trial on a two-count charge of conspiracy and murder.
They were alleged to have, on or about July 27, 2006, at 34A, Corporation Drive, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, conspired to murder Williams, an engineer.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the offence, which contravenes Sections 316 and 324 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State, 2003.
Oyokomino said he and his men visited the crime scene about 12:30pm following a call from the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, AIG, Zone II.
He told the court that a mattress and cushion containing shoe prints were collected from the deceased’s home, adding that a blood-stained pink shirt was found in a Samsonite suitcase in the third bedroom.
The witness said a green rope that was notched in various places was used by the killers to gain access into Williams’ house, adding: “The assailants gained entry into his apartment (his wing of a twin duplex) from the unoccupied second wing of the twin duplex.”
He said: “I got there at about 12:30pm with my men. There were so many people; we could hardly get into the scene with our vehicle. The deceased was in a lying position on the floor; his arms were tied behind him. His head region was under the bed and we observed blood around the head on the floor.
“He was wearing a multi-coloured Ankara ‘Buba and Sokoto’. The ‘Sokoto’ had shifted, thereby revealing his white under-pant. There was evidence of ransacking the whole upstairs including the family’s living room and master bedroom. We processed for finger prints, shoe prints and noted the position of things considered to be relevant for our forensic work, which included one empty scabbard without the dagger. We did not move the body from the position we found it. The pathologist who subsequently moved the body discovered the dagger under it.”
The witness said there was a manhole in the concrete ceiling for ease of maintenance, adding: “An opening of 2 by 2 covered with a plywood board was made on the ceiling. The manhole was just two feet from the dividing wall of the duplexes and it was similar with the other side. The building has a common roof.
“They used a green colour nylon rope notched in a number of places for easy usage to descend into the deceased’s apartment. We collected the rope, mattress, containing shoe print, cushion in the living room with shoe print. We also found a blood-stained long-sleeve shirt, pink in colour, in a Samsonite suitcase in the third room.”
According to Oyokomino, the police at that time, relied on the mode of entry into the apartment to effect arrest, adding that two suspects who had previously broken into apartments in similar pattern, were nabbed.
He said DNA materials were collected from the suspects and tested in a forensic laboratory in Britain, adding that the suspects were released after the DNA report exonerated them.
Oyokomino added: “The Investigating Police Officer, IPO, investigating the case later came back with suspects apprehended with the cell phone of the deceased, which was removed the day the incident occurred.
“We got an order from the Magistrate’s Court to obtain blood samples of the new suspects along with those of the policemen who were attached to the deceased and his private security guard. Three of the suspects are police officers. We obtained the blood samples from the suspects while in detention. Samples were sent for DNA profile, which were reported inconclusive. This was reported to the prosecuting counsel who immediately set in motion to obtain fresh samples through a court order at the High Court.”
“I was later informed that the judge at the time gave an order, but I never saw the certified true copy till now. It was only recently that I learnt that the order could not be carried out because the presiding judge at that time died without signing the order she made,” he said.
Asked by the court where the exhibits were, the witness said they were at the forensic department, including “body tissues and blood samples brought by the pathologist who conducted autopsy on the late Williams.”
Prosecuting counsel Mrs. O.A. Akin-Adesomojo prayed the court for an order to collect fresh DNA samples from all the suspects in order to match same with the blood stains found on the shirt at Williams’ residence.
She said it was necessary to obtain further samples from all the suspects so that those who may not be involved in the crime would be freed, but counsel to the defendants, Okezie Agbara, objected. He the prosecution had ample time since July 27, 2006 that the deceased died, to make its requests, adding: “It will be unfair to come through the back door to make another request.”
Justice Adebajo adjourned the case till June 3.
JD: How sad!as it is the case is virtually over if the blood samples have truly been compromised.it is a sad reflection on our police and government that in 2013,we cannot keep ordinary blood samples under conditions that will preserve them.How did we ever get to this?