Legal advice goes missing

Tortured Togolese: Legal advice goes missing four months after release

Yaba Margistrate Court

Legal advice into the alleged killing of a Togolese, Frank Afavi, by two members of the Oodua People’s Congress, Ogunbayo Waliu and Mukaila Salami, may have gone missing after it was issued by the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions.

The case, which is before a Yaba Magistrate’s Court, was on Wednesday adjourned till August 31, 2021, after the police prosecutor, Ibijoke Akinpelu, said the advice had not been issued.

However, investigation revealed that the advice was issued on April 6, 2021 and released to the magistrate’s court.

With the latest adjournment, the case has dragged for eight months based on the legal advice.

Our correspondent had reported that 38-year-old Frank, who was a French teacher, became a security guard due to the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was guarding Abiola Farm Estate, Ayobo, in a bid to fend for his wife and children.

On Sunday, November 29, 2020, he was arranging instruments in his church preparatory to the service when he was called by his employers to come for his salary.

Frank reportedly left his wife and kids in the church, Christ is Able Apostolic Mission, Amule, Ayobo, and ran off to meet his employers.

He was said to have been seized and accused of colluding with a thief to steal car batteries on the estate.

OPC members in the community reportedly tortured him to death, as his corpse was taken to the Ayobo Police Station.

The police subsequently arrested nine suspects, whom they transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Yaba.

The SCIID released seven of the suspects and arraigned Waliu and Salami on two counts of murder.

Frank’s father died after seeing photos of his torture.

His brother, Peter, claimed that the father of four was killed out of envy, saying the OPC men were angry that he guarded an estate that should be under their jurisdiction.

Peter, who also lamented that the deceased’s hand disappeared from a Lagos morgue where he was kept for autopsy, said the family was not aware when the suspects were taken to court.

The Yaba Chief Magistrate, A.O. Adedayo, remanded the two defendants when they were arraigned on December 10, 2020, as the case was adjourned till January 12, 2021 for legal advice.

The defendants, who were arraigned on sections 223 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015, were, however, released on bail.

The matter was thereafter adjourned till Tuesday, March 30, 2021.

The court did not sit that day and the case was adjourned till April 26.

Due to the strike action by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, proceedings did not hold.

After the strike was called off, the case was adjourned till Monday, July 26.

During the proceedings, the police prosecutor was said to be absent from court, as the defence counsel said the DPP advice was still being awaited.

The court subsequently adjourned till Wednesday, August 4.

The police prosecutor, the defence counsel, and the two defendants were present in court.

The prosecutor, Akinpelu, said the court was still awaiting the DPP advice and asked that the matter be adjourned.

The chief magistrate subsequnetly adjourned the matter till August 31, 2021.

When we called Akinpelu on the telephone to ask about the case and how the men got bail despite facing a murder charge, she said, “I don’t know anything about that matter. I just appeared. Ask the court registrar for information about the prosecutor.”

Our correspondent reached out to sources at the DPP for information on the case and was informed that the advice was released on April 6, 2021.

we also confirmed that the advice indicted the two men.

According to a source, legal advice when issued, is given to a court registrar, who usually signs for it.

“If the registrar fails to put it inside the case file, there is no way the magistrate will know about it. It must be with the registrar, who signs the dispatch book when legal advice is sent to the court. They should look at the dispatch register and demand who signed for it. If it is the registrar, then they should ask him or her where he kept it. Why is it not in the file?” the source added.