The absence of a lawyer to represent a suspected serial killer, Gracious West, stalled his arraignment at the Rivers State High Court on Monday.
West was arrested by security personnel while he was on his way to Akwa Ibom State from Port Harcourt after he allegedly killed two women in Lagos, Owerri and five others in Port Harcourt.
The suspect, before his arrest on September 19, 2019, specialised in luring unsuspecting young women to hotels, killing them and escaping from the hotel.
West, who was brought to court by heavily armed personnel of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, at about 10.28am, was not represented by any counsel.
This development made it impossible for the charges to be read to him.
The trial judge, Justice Adolphus Enebeli, who observed that the suspect was in court without a lawyer, held that he (West) was entitled to a counsel before he could be properly arraigned.
Justice Enebeli had asked West if he had any lawyer representing him (suspect) in court and he said no.
The suspect told the court that a lawyer, whose name he could not recall, promised to be in court to represent him.
But West added that he did not know why the lawyer was not in court.
Justice Enebeli, however, adjourned the case till Tuesday (today), adding that the matter deserved timely and expeditious hearing.
Speaking with newsmen after the court session, the Officer-in-Charge of Legal Matters and Prosecutions, Gladys Imegwu, said the suspect was aware that he would be in court.
She said, “The matter for today (Monday) is the case of Gracious West, the suspected serial killer. He was to be arraigned in court today on 10 counts; nine counts bordering on murder and one count bordering on attempted murder. He (West) was duly served and he was aware that the matter would come up in court today.
“He told the court that his lawyer permitted him to be in court today, but the lawyer was nowhere to be found.”
But if the court can, in its wisdom, appoint a lawyer for him because of the severity of the offence, that will be okay. That is even the constitutional provision.
“The court has the right to appoint a lawyer for him either from the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria or the bar. The court in its wisdom adjourned the matter till tomorrow (Tuesday) on the grounds that he should get a lawyer of his choice. But if he is not able to do that, the court will decide whether to appoint one for him from the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria or the bar.”
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