The absence of 10 suspects charged with the torture of three women at Oba Morufu International Market in Ejigbo, a suburb of Lagos on Monday stalled their arraignment.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPPs) had charged the defendants before Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of an Ikeja High Court.
The defendants are the Market’s Leader, Isiaka Waidi (61), Saheed Adisa (29), Lateef Tijani (37), Ahmed Adisa (65) and Azeez Akinosun (36).
Others are Jimoh Busari (50), Buhari Yusuf (22), Abdullahi Harun (20) and Oloruntoyin Dauda (46) who is the only female suspect among them.
They are facing a 19-count charge bordering on conspiracy, attempted murder, sexual assault, maliciously administering poison, obtaining money by false pretence and deprivation of liberty.
When the matter came up on Monday, none of the defendants was arraigned.
Mrs Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecutions, informed the court that the 10 defendants had been granted bail by a magistrate court.
Alakija said the defendants might have been unaware that the proceedings were coming up on Monday because they had not been personally served with the information.
She, therefore, asked for an adjournment to enable the prosecution to contact them and bring them to court to face the charges preferred against them.
The judge obliged the DPPs’ request but ordered that she should ensure that all the defendants were in court at the next adjournment date.
Ipaye also directed the Zonal Director of the Legal Aid Council to provide representation for the defendants in order to accelerate hearing of the case.
She, consequently, adjourned the matter till March 3, for the arraignment of the defendants.
The DPP had before now, told the court that the defendants had tortured Nike Salami, Juliana Agomo and Joke Agomo for stealing pepper at the market on Feb.11, 2013.
The prosecution said the defendants beat-up the women, stripped them naked and robbed pepper over their bodies.
The defendants were alleged to have inserted sticks and obnoxious substances into the women’s private parts, while the incident was recorded with a mobile phone.
They were also accused of obtaining the sum of N50,000 from one Fima Agomo, a relative to the victims by claiming that the money would be used to repay the traders whose pepper had been stolen.
NAN reports that the public expressed their displeasure with a video of the incident when it appeared on the internet over a year after the incident had happened.
There were calls from the public for the arrest and prosecution of the suspects.
The then Inspector General of Police, Mr Muhammed Abubakar, ordered the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad to take over the investigation which eventually led to the arrest of the defendants.