The Lagos State Government has commenced its trial against the suspected owner and driver of the truck carrying an unlatched container which fell and killed 27 yr old Chidinma Ajoku and two others.
At the State High Court sitting in the Igbosere area today, the Attorney General of Lagos, Moyosore Onigbanjo(SAN), amended the charge against the two defendants to 7 counts as against the earlier 3 counts filed against them.
In the amended charge, the truck owner and the driver are facing 6 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of liability for the safety of vehicles which caused the deaths of Chidinma Ajoku, Nnaekpe Victor, and Daniel Okwuoge.
The Attorney General also called the first prosecution witness, a Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS) officer, Hamed Baruwa, an engineer to testify.
The witness told the court that investigations conducted by his team showed that the truck which caused the accident had no roadworthiness.
He said “following directives from my boss, Akin George Fashola, I proceeded on August 6, to Ilasamaja Police station, where I met DSP Oluwasola Omololu and he took me to the place they parked the vehicle at Balex Bus stop. When I got there with my team, I saw the Volkswagen commercial bus that had been compressed because of the container that fell on it.”
” I asked for the Truck and the DSP, took me to the place where it is parked, it was a 20 feet container, I noticed that the truck is not road worthy, the front and back fender were not there, the rear lights and backlights were not there, the shaft of the vehicle had pulled out,” Baruwa stated.
The witness said he then went back to the scene of the accident to take a look at the road. He found out that the road has no pothole inward Mile 2. After his investigations, he took photographs of his observations.
When he got back to his office, the Vehicle Inspection Officer said he logged the registration number of the truck, SGM 715 XA, into their detective machine database and discovered that the vehicle license had expired since 2018.
After this testimony, the defendant’s counsel, Mr M. A. Osamede, urged the court for an adjournment to enable him to cross-examine the witness.
Justice Mobolanle Okikiolu-Ighile has adjourned till August 26, for the continuation of trial.
One of the counts of the charge reads, “Sodiq Okanlawon, on July 26, at about 4: 30pm, at Apapa-Oshodi Expressway Ilasamaja, did drive his articulated vehicle with reg no. SGM 715 XA, recklessly without latching the container thereon and caused the container to fall and caused the deaths of Nnaekpe Victor, Chidinma Ajoku and Daniel Okwuoge”
Another count states that Wasiu Lekan, failed, neglected and refused to ensure that his articulated vehicle with reg no. SGM 715 XA, was roadworthy, which caused the death of the three deceased persons.
The two defendants were also accused of liability for the safety of vehicles, by failing to obtain valid vehicle license, hackney permit and insurance certificate of their vehicle, in conformity with the conditions and standard of commercial vehicles in Lagos State.
The offences were said to have been committed on July 26, 2020, at about 4.30 pm, on Oshodi Expressway, in Ilasamaja area.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to all 7 counts.