The families of seven persons standing trial for alleged complicity in the killing of the former National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Ekiti State, Chief Omolafe Aderiye, have dragged a lawyer based in Ilorin, Kwara State, Mr. Ahmed Tafa, before the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Disciplinary Committee.
In a joint petition, the families urged the NBA disciplinary panel to investigate the alleged roles of Tafa in the murder case which has suffered what they called “endless and frivolous adjournments” at the lawyer’s instance.
They alleged that Tafa, who was engaged by the Ekiti State government as the prosecution counsel in the case with Suit Number: HAD/12c/2014, has “turned himself into a willing tool in the hand of Governor Ayo Fayose to keep accused persons in prison custody perpetually.”
The defendants in the case are: the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) leader in the state, Prince Adeniyi Adedipe; two former Chairmen of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Mr. Adebayo Aderiye and Chief Rotimi Olanbiwonnu; Mr. Sola Durodola, Mr. Kayode Ajayi, Mr. Oso Farotimi and Mr. Sola Adenijo.
The late former NURTW boss, Aderiye, was murdered on 25th September, 2014 at his private motor park, Lafe Ade Transport Services, Ijigbo, Ado-Ekiti while the accused who are all members of the opposition All Progressives’ Congress (APC) were arrested and hauled into prison custody from where they have been standing trial before Justice Adekanye Lekan Ogunmoye of State High Court 6.
The petition dated 6th October, 2017, which was made available to The Nation on Friday was signed by Mrs. Kehinde Aderiye, Mrs. Gbemisola Adedipe, Mrs. Morenike Durodola, Mrs. Janet Ajayi, Mr. Sikiru Eyebiokin, Mrs. Seun Adenijo and Mrs. Eniola Olanbiwonnu.
Attached to the petition are copies of rulings delivered by Justice Ogunmoye in which he reprimanded Mr. Tafa for not being diligent in his assignment as the prosecution counsel and letters written to the court by the lawyer to give excuses for his non-appearance.
The petition reads in part: “We are family members of the defendants in the above-named charge who have been standing trial since 2014 and are presently kept at an Ado-Ekiti prison custody on a trumped-up charge of murder.
“The case has suffered unnecessary delays in the last three years as a result of unprofessional acts of Mr. Ahmed Tafa who is the Prosecution Counsel for Ekiti State Government.
“Despite the fact that the Defendants are prepared to answer charges against them, Mr. Tafa had not only come up with frivolous applications but had done everything possible to stand as a stumbling block in the wheels of justice.
“We are therefore constrained to write this petition detailing unprofessional conducts of Mr. Tafa who was turned himself to a ready tool in the hands of the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Peter Ayodele Fayose, whose only interest is to keep the defendants in prison custody permanently.
“Immediately after Mr. Tafa called his star witness, Mr. Gbolahan Okeowo, sometimes in November 2015 after giving evidence that he did not see any of the Defendants at the scene of the crime being the only person with the victim as at the time the victim was murdered, Mr. Tafa has deployed all known tricks in the world to ensure that the further hearing of the case is frustrated.
“As a matter of emphasis, Mr. Tafa, who on his own volition, closed the case of the prosecution around November 2015, came up with an application to reopen the prosecution case after Defendants had moved the court to make a no-case submission.
“The said application was refused by the lower court and Mr. Tafa found an avenue through this to ensure that the matter did not go on at the lower court as he, immediately, rushed to the Court of Appeal.
“This rendered the lower court impotent from continuing with the hearing of the case as expressed in a ruling annexed to this letter as Annexure “A”. The Court of Appeal only ruled on the matter on the 9th day of July, 2017 which is about one-and-half years after the proceedings at the lower court were stalled.
“Notwithstanding the fact that the Court of Appeal granted his prayers to reopen the case of the prosecution, Mr. Tafa embarked on another unprofessional delay tactics at frustrating the speedy hearing of the case as envisaged by the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Ekiti State.
“This act of Mr Tafa’s antics and unprofessional conduct led the presiding judge, Justice Lekan Ogunmoye, to condemn and chastise him in a ruling over his unnecessary applications for adjournments. In his words, Justice Ogunmoye observed that ‘Mr. Ahmed Tafa’s conduct of the case had been less than diligent in the prosecution of this matter and had not done what is expected of a counsel in a situation like this.
“The court, due to these antics of Mr. Tafa had closed the case of the prosecution suo moto, on two occasions only for him to come up with applications to reopen same. Meanwhile, our counsels informed us that they cannot oppose those applications because they understand that Mr. Tafa is only looking for an avenue to rush back to the Appeal Court in an attempt to further frustrate the hearing of the case at the lower court.
“The Fayose government has found an ally in Mr. Ahmed Tafa, a man who ordinarily ought to stand for justice at all times, act as a minister in the temple of justice and promote the nobleness of the legal profession which made it unique than every other profession.
“Rather, Mr. Ahmed Tafa has turned himself to an instrument and a ready tool of oppression and persecution to ensure that the Defendants are permanently kept in custody as promised by Fayose.”
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