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Trial opens of 3 Nigerians over Briton’s murder

Jun 6, 2012, 1:27 PM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

The trial commenced yesterday at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul of the 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.

The first prosecution witness, Festus Nwafu, a Nigerian national, told the court he sells second-hand clothes at the Bakau beach side.

The witness added that he knew the 2nd accused, Stanley, as they lived together for almost five months, adding that he also knew the 3rd accused, Collins, but they never stayed together and he was as well familiar with the 1st accused, by seeing him in Bakau.

“On 14 May 2012, while I was in my shop, I heard that the police were arresting Nigerians, but I dId not know the reason the police were arresting the Nigerians. I then called Stanley on his phone; it was off,” he stated.

He added that later in the evening, when he went home at around 7:30pm, he saw a police officer in their house, but he did not talk to the police and he did not enter the house, because he was afraid.

He said he then went to one of the churches in Bakau, where he spent the night.

Nwafu further told the court that Stanley later called him on a different line and informed him that he Stanley was in Banjul, but he wanted him to help him with some money as he wanted to leave the country, because they had a problem with a white man who later died.

The 2nd accused told him that Collins was also involved in the fight they had with the white man, but he did not know the others, he continued.

“At that point, I went to the Kairaba Police Station where I reported the matter and I was accompanied by one Inspector Cham to effect arrest on the 2nd accused”, he said.

Upon our arrival in Banjul, he added, he called the 2nd accused on the phone and the accused told him that he had crossed the sea and he was at Barra.

“I went with the officer to Barra where we met him within the Ferry Terminal at Barra,” he added.

Under cross-examination, the witness told the court that he informed the police that the 2nd accused person told him that he had a fight with a white man with two others, but the white man later died.

He said the accused wanted him to help him with some money to leave the country.

Also testifying was one Majale Fwala, who said among other things that she worked for the deceased as a bar keeper, and that on the particular day the deceased left the bar with one man, but never came back.

She said they went to lodge a complaint at the Kotu Police Station, and they were told to come back the following morning.

“I was later informed that the deceased was found in his car dead, and I also attended the burial at Makasutu Forest Park,” she said.

Tumbu Keita, a taxi driver, also testified and said among other things that when he was from early morning prayers, he saw a vehicle parked at a place near Bakoteh Junction Bar.

He added that the place was too sandy, and as a result the vehicle seemed stuck there. He said he went closer to the vehicle, and saw a white man lying on the vehicle’s seat.

Inspector Nfansu Sowe, a police officer attached to the Bakoteh Police Station, was another witness for the prosecution.

Sowe said, among other things, that he obtained both cautionary and voluntary statements from the 1st accused person, at the Kairaba Police Station in the presence of an independent witness, one Adama Cham.

The case continues today.