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Published On: Fri, Jul 18th, 2014

Court discharges man accused of wrongful burial

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One Joefy Ikwen, standing trial over alleged burial of his dead girlfriend without the knowledge of her parents has regain his freedom, after an Abuja Senior Magistrates’ court in Karu, struck out the case for lack of diligent prosecution.

“The case was scheduled for hearing today but the prosecutor in this matter is not here in court and there is no letter before me to show why he is absent.

“Since the case was first mentioned, the prosecutor has not called any witness to prove his case against the accused. This shows that he is not ready to continue with the matter.

“In view of this, the accused person is hereby discharged and the First Information Report (FIR) struck out,” the Senior Magistrate, Ann Akobi ruled.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the accused was arraigned by the police on April 4 for negligent conduct.

The prosecutor, ASP. Peter Adams, had told the court that the accused buried his dead girlfriend, Theresa Benandarton, without permission of her relations or the police.

The accused had pleaded guilty, saying that the deceased was staying with him before she took ill and died on February 8.

He said that he buried the girl because he didn’t have the chance to meet her people before her death barely a month after they met and fell in love.

Ikwen told the court that he had to bury the girl after efforts to locate her people had failed, adding that he never knew it was an offence.

The magistrate had adjourned the case and fixed a date for sentencing.

But on the adjourned date, the accused surprisingly changed his plea, and his counsel, Okpokam Ayim, made an application asking the court to set aside the initial guilty plea for lack of evidence.

Ayim had further argued that the admission of guilt did not support the charge of negligent conduct.

He further urged the court to strike out the FIR and discharge his client or allow the change of plea, and hold proper trial in the interest of justice.

In response, the prosecutor told the court to disregard the defence counsel’s application and sentence the accused.

“The accused is an adult and the FIR was read out to him in English and explained to his understanding before he took his plea.

“The accused did not only admit crime before your Lordship, but also explained how the lady died and how he buried her at the Area 1 cemetery in Abuja,’’ Adams said.

Akobi had granted the accused bail, but he could not meet the conditions and was remanded at the Keffi Prison until he was finally discharged on Tuesday. (NAN)


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