Justice Josephine Oyefeso of an Ikeja High Court has ordered the driver of a boat, Happiness Elebiju, who allegedly killed 13 passengers in a boat mishap that occurred on July 29, 2020 on the Kirikiri waterways in Lagos to prepare his defence. The trial judge said Elebiju has a case to answer.
Justice Oyefeso made the order while ruling on a no-case submission filed by the defendant.
The judge said she had considered the totality of the evidence before the court and found that there are many questions begging for answers.
“The defendant indeed does have a case to answer. I overrule the no-case submission and call on the defendant to open his defence,” Oyefeso said.
Following the ruling, the case was adjourned to April 14 for the defendant to open his defence.
Elebiju is facing an eleven-count charge of manslaughter and operating without a license before the court.
Five prosecution witnesses, including survivors, have testified during the trial and prosecution had closed its case on February 4.
According to the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Olayinka Adeyemi; Elebiju drove his boat, with the inscription “Mount Zion Transport” in a reckless and dangerous manner causing the death of some of the passengers.
Elebiju, who was scheduled to open his defence on March 18, had on that day, filed a no-case submission through his counsel, Samuel Ogungbamila.
Ogungbamila told the court to discharge the defendant noting that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against his client.
The DPP had however opposed the defendant’s application.