A glimmer of hope emerged for Ojo Gbenga, a defendant facing charges of armed robbery and conspiracy, as the case against him was dismissed by the Ikeja High Court on Monday, citing the absence of a prosecution witness.
Justice Oyindamola Ogala held that the “defendant’s presumption of innocence is still valid’’.
“The defendant should be released in the absence of any matter in any other court,” he said. “The prosecution is at liberty to re-arrest when the victim (the prosecution witness) is ready to reopen the case. ”
The state prosecutor, O.A. Azeez, told the court that the prosecution witness, the victim, relocated outside of Lagos State after the incident, hence his absence.
Mr Azeez said he also tried to contact the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) in charge of the case but was unsuccessful.
The defence counsel, Bidemi Ademola, told the court that the matter should be struck out since the prosecution witness had relocated with no intention of returning to Lagos.
He said the defendant has been in custody since 2022 and should not be kept there indefinitely.
The defendant was first arraigned on August 3, 2022, on a two-count charge bordering on conspiracy and armed robbery.
Mr Gbenga was alleged to have carried out the act in the company of others, now at large, on February 26, 2022, at about 10:30 p.m. in the Ojo-Ladipo Street, Ikotun area of Lagos.
The offences, according to the prosecution, contravened sections 299 and 297 (2)(a) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, C. 17, Vol. 3 Law of Lagos State, 2015.