The trial of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) driver, Andrew Nice Ominnikoron has begun at of Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa TBS, with the testimony of the first prosecution witness, Nneka Maryjane Odezulu.
Ominnikoron was arraigned on March 22 before Justice Serifat Sonaike on a four count charge bordering on rape, conspiracy and murder of his passenger, Bamise Ayanwola.
At the proceedings on Monday, the Lagos State, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, who led the prosecution, informed the court that his office had amended the charge against the defendant and added additional proof of evidence against the defendant.
Pursuant to Section 155 and 251 (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, he urged the court to let the defendant retake his plea.
The five-count amended charge was then read to the defendant, Andrew Nice and he pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
The prosecution swiftly called its first witness, Odezulu who proceeded to narrate to the court how the defendant raped her after tearing her clothes.
While answering questions from the AG, the witness told Justice Sherifat Sonaike that before the defendant raped her, he slapped her and held her neck such that she couldn’t breath again, she also said he tried to strangle her after which he tore her clothes.
Odezulu, aged 29, described herself as a sales representative and a mother.
She said that on November, 25, 2021, after closing from work, around 8pm, which is the time she normally closes, she stood at Alesh Hotel Bus Stop, Ajah, where she saw the BRT bus parked.
She said that she approached the driver (the defendant) and asked him if he was going to get to her bus stop in the Jakande area of Lekki. After he answered yes, she asked how much the fare was and he said N100, so she boarded the bus and sat at the back.
The witness stated that shortly after, a man approached the defendant and asked him if he was going to Oshodi and he said yes then they started arguing about the price but later the man didn’t enter the bus.
Odezulu said, “When I entered the BRT, the lights were on, but on getting to Lekki Conservation, Lekki – Ajah express way, he stopped the motor and brought out one medicine. He took the medicine with one bottle water, so I did not bother myself because I thought it was a medication.
“After that, he asked me to come to the front seat that why am I sitting at the back seat. Then I stood up and went to sit at the front. Then he started asking me questions what is my name, how old I am, who do I live with, in the process of asking me questions, he brought out his phone, and discussed with the person on the other end, about two transactions.
“When he concluded, he turned to me and said let’s go and park somewhere and discuss. I said sir, I am coming back from work and I am tired and I need to go and pick my daughter from after school care, that was when I noticed that his manhood was up,” the witness testified.
“Then I brought out my big phone, I wanted to call somebody and record what was happening, he was like what I’m I doing, who I want to call with my phone, he got up from the driver’s seat and collected my phone from me.
“He held on to a small knife and dragged me to the back and said I should pull off my clothes, I was like why will I pull off my clothes, do I know you before?
“We started dragging and he said I should remove everything because I was not a baby. He slapped me and held my neck and wanted to strangle me. I couldn’t breathe again, then his face changed and he said that if he kills me now, nothing will happen and nobody will know where I am that I should respect myself.
“He pushed me down at the back seat, I held the seats and was begging him. He held the knife, tore my clothes and raped me from the back.
“After that, I told him to stop me that I want to come down. He said I told him that I was going to Jakande that he will drop me at my bus stop. On getting to my bus stop, I asked him to please give me my phone and open the door for me, and then he started apologising that he was sorry for everything that happened.
“He said I should give him my account number. I told him, I don’t need his money, and then he said that I am being stubborn that I don’t want to give him my account number. So I gave him my account number and he sent N3000 and said I should use it to buy pain killers.”
The witness further said, “He asked me to give him my phone number, I gave him before he gave me back my phone and then opened the BRT door. Then I used my big phone to record the plate number from the back.
“Few hours later, he called me and said he was sorry, and asked me if I had gotten home, have I picked my daughter from after school. I did not answer any of his questions then I ended the call. He called me back the next day and subsequently but I did not pick his calls.”
She also said that, “After the incident, whenever I’m coming back from work and see any BRT Bus, I use to look inside to see if it was him. I have seen him like four times at that Chevron Tollgate when he passed.”
When asked if she reported the rape case at the police station, she said no that she has had a bad experience with the police, at Jakande and that if she had reported they would have insulted her.
The witness showed the court the stripped dress she wore on the day she was raped, by the defendant, after which the prosecution sought to tender it in evidence as an exhibit.
The defendant’s counsel, Mr Abayomi Omotubora, raised objections to some of the question answered by the witness.
He also raised objections to the admissibility of the dress sought to be tendered as an exhibit on the grounds that it was not stated in the proof of evidence. Citing Section 221 (1) (3) 2011 and 36 (6), 1999, of the Evidence Act to buttress his argument, he urged the court not to admit the exhibit in evidence.
In a short ruling, Justice Serifat Sonaike, overruled the objections of the defence counsel and admitted the exhibit in evidence.
She subsequently adjourned the case till tomorrow, Tuesday May 10th for continuation of trial.
Andrew Nice Ominnikoron is facing a five-count charge bordering on rape, conspiracy, felony, sexual assault, and murder preferred against him by the Lagos state government.
The prosecution said that the defendant on November 25, 2021, allegedly raped a 29 year -old lady Nneka Maryjane Odezulu, without her consent.
It said that the incident took place at about 7pm, at the Lekki- Ajah Conservation centre off the Lekki Ajah expressway in Lagos.
The DPP also told the court that Andrew Nice conspired with others now at large and forcefully had sexual intercourse with his 22-year-old passenger, Oluwabamise Ayanwole, a fashion designer without her consent after which he murdered her.
Dr Martins said the rape incident happened on February 25, 2022, at about 8 pm, on the Lekki-Ajah Conservation expressway.
He said that the defendant and others still at large on February 26, 2022, unlawfully killed one Oluwabamise Ayanwole by throwing her out of a moving bus at Cater bridge after having sexual intercourse with her without her consent.
According to the prosecutor, the offences committed is contrary to and punishable under Sections 411, 223, 260 and 165 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
When all the counts were read to the defendant, he pleaded not guilty to the charge against him.