Tears flowed as hearing continued at an Ikeja High Court on Monday, before Justice Oyindamola Ogala, on the involuntary manslaughter charges against Elijah Shokoya.
Officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the Nigeria Police Force testified for the state at the continued hearing.
Shokoya, is standing trial for allegedly causing the death of a LASTMA officer, Mr Olawale Akinmade, on Jan. 26.
He was accused of mowing down the LASTMA officer, who was directing traffic on the Ikorodu Expressway by Demurin Junction, Ketu, Lagos, with his Opel Car with Lagos registration number AAA 74 GG.
Shokoya faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
The State, led by Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), opened it’s case against the driver by presenting two witnesses.
Testifying as the first Prosecution Witness, Mrs Aderonke Malik, a Traffic Superintendent, said she had worked at LASTMA for five-years and that she had worked with the deceased for a year as part of a team three controlling traffic at Demurin junction.
She described the late Akinmade as a diligent and hardworking officer, who would rather correct erring motorists than make an arrest.
Malik, who could not hold back her tears while narrating how Akinmade died, said around 7.00 p.m. on Jan. 26, “Shokoya was driving to Demurin Junction towards Ketu and had stopped on the highway to drop off and pick up passengers.
“My colleague asked him to move to enable free flow of traffic and he became rude and unruly to him. He was trying to talk to the defendant because he did not want to effect an arrest.
“At that time, I was controlling traffic and I suddenly saw the defendant pushing my colleague with his vehicle.
“I ran towards him shouting stop, stop and my colleague was banging on his bonnet for him to stop.
“The defendant did not stop until he knocked him over on the highway and he drove off.”
The LASTMA Officer said in the ensuing chaos, she chased the fleeing driver on foot until she was picked up by motorcyclist who joined her in the chase.
She said Shokoya fled into a closed street and was caught with the aid of other motorcyclists and police officers.
“We took the defendant to the police station at Ketu/Alapere and I gave my statement and went back to the emergency hospital where my colleague was being treated.
“When I got there, they attended to him and he was referred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) where he was confirmed dead,”she said.
Concluding her evidence-in-chief, Malik said LASTMA officers faced numerous challenges including motorists flouting traffic laws and killing LASTMA officers.
“I want this court to put an end to the killing of officers,”she said.
While being cross-examined by the defence counsel, Mr Ebunola Ewonowo, Malik said Akinmade never crossed the lane to approach Shokoya and that the passengers in the car escaped when they saw what he had allegedly done.
A policewoman and the second Prosecution Witness, ASP Mercy Ibok, in her testimony, told the court that she was controlling traffic at the scene of the incident.
Ibok said after Shokoya was apprehended, investigations revealed that he was an unlicensed driver and he had stopped at an Illegal bus stopon Ikorodu road when he was cautioned by the late LASTMA officer.
During Ibok’s testimony, the DPP wanted to tender Shokoya’s police statement to the court as evidence, but Ewonomo objected to the admissibility of the statement on the grounds that it was obtained under duress.
He noted that though, the statement was written in English language, the defendant neither understood nor could write in the language.
The DPP objected to the defence’s submission, saying that the defendant chose English as the language to be communicated with during his arraignment.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that earlier at the start of the trial, the DPP in her opening statement, told the court that the case was an example of extreme act of intolerance and contempt shown to LASTMA officers.
She said the deceased was a dutiful officer who was always directing traffic at his duty post. The DPP also revealed the impact Akinmade’s death had on his loved ones.
“The prosecution will show this honourable court that the deceased died a violent death as a result of the deliberate act of the defendant.
“The deceased’s wife, who was pregnant at that time lost her pregnancy and all the dependants of the deceased were left in the cold,”she said.
Justice Ogala adjourned the case until Oct. 18 for ruling.