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Defence opens in alleged Briton’s murder trial

Jun 19, 2012, 1:57 PM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

The accused persons opened their defence yesterday at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul, in the murder trial involving three Nigerian nationals accused of murdering a British national, Ian Stokes.

Michael Ifunaya Churwbiken, Stanley Agbaze Ugochuku and Collins Chijoke were alleged to have with malice aforethought, caused the death of one Ian Stokes, by stabbing him repeatedly on the neck, abdomen and left arm, on 13 May 2012, at Bakoteh Junction Bar.

Michael Ifunaya, the 1st accused, told the court that he used to live in Bakau Sanchaba and knew the 2nd and 3rd accused persons, but denied conspiring with them to murder Ian Stokes.

He said on 13 May 2012, he went to Kololi to met Ian Stokes, because he had a business agreement with Stokes, but the business was between him Michael, Ian Stokes, Mac and Fish, who are South African.

Stanley then met him at the Observer Junction, while he was waiting for a vehicle to go to Kololi, he said, adding that Stanley accompanied him to Stoke’s office at Kololi, in respect of the business agreement, but Stanley, the 2nd accused person, did not know about it.

 “Ian invited us and gave us a bottle of bear. I then introduced the 2nd accused to him and we then boarded the vehicle to the restaurant. Upon our arrival at the restaurant, I realised that Mac was standing by the Ian’s vehicle door,” he told the court.

Ian then asked if he could excuse them, as they wanted to have a word, he continued, stating that he then stepped out of the vehicle.

“I was observing them to know whether Ian and Mac wanted to eject me out of the business. After the discussion, Mac told me to join Fish’s vehicle. I and the 2nd accused joined Fish’s vehicle where I saw gold in Ian’s vehicle. I saw a lady there with Mac driving towards Sukuta,” he added.

 “Ian’s vehicle then stopped and Fish also stopped. That was the vehicle I and the 2nd accused was on board. When I opened Ian’s vehicle door, I found he was not alive lying on the front passenger seat,” he told the court.

The first accused said he closed the vehicle door and called the 2nd accused, Stanley, but when the 2nd accused set his eye on the remains of the deceased, he had to run away and came back.

 “I also opened the vehicle door and shut it. I was mentally disturbed by the incident. I then shouted and the 2nd accused was crying,” he stated.

He further narrated that at that point, the 2nd accused, had a call and when he enquired from him, he told him it was the 3rd accused and he took the phone from the 2nd accused and asked the 3rd accused where he was.

The 3rd replied that he was somewhere in Serrekunda and told him to buy him some fuel and he would refund him.

“The 3rd accused bought the fuel and brought it to me and left. I was about to set myself ablaze, but I later left. I did not report the matter to the police station,” Michael told the court.

Under cross-examination, Michael told the court that Mac and Fish came to him for a business transaction, a fortnight before the incident, asking him whether he knew somebody who could buy gold.

He added it was Fish who proposed the name of Ian Stokes and he (Michael) knew Mac and Fish two weeks before the incident, at Ian’s restaurant.

 “I did not know the type of persons Mac and Fish were. I did not know who attempted to burn Ian. I wanted to use the fuel to set myself on fire because of the situation. I am innocent in the case,” he stated.

 “I was arrested at Barra while I was leaving for Senegal, so that I will not be suspected of any wrong-doing,” he further told the court.

 The case continues today.