Chief Richard Kpodo, a former aide to ex-Governor Timippre Sylva of Bayelsa, standing trial for alleged rape of a 26-year female cashier, has appealed Justice Ineikade Eradiri’s ruling, declining to disqualify self from hearing the case.
News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Kpodo’s counsel, Julius Iyekoroghe, had on December 21, 2018, approached Eradiri with a motion on notice, urging him to disqualify himself from hearing the case.
The defence counsel alleged that the judge showed bias in the case by refusing to grant bail to the defendant.
Eradiri, however, struck out the motion and adjourned the case to January 24 for the defence team to open their defence.
Speaking at the resumed hearing on Thursday, Kpodo’s defence team, led by E.J. Okere, told the court that they had appealed against its ruling on their allegation of bias and could not enter defence.
Okere said: “We applied to you to disqualify yourself from the trial on grounds of bias and our application was refused.
“So we appealed against that ruling. We will also file a stay of proceeding at the higher court.
“In view of the appeal before a higher court, we cannot enter defence at this moment.”
The prosecuting counsel, Andrew Arthur, opposed Okere’s application for stay of proceedings “just because an appeal had been filed”.
Arthur, therefore, urged the court to proceed with the case.
Okere further objected to the appearance of Authur in the case on the grounds that he was recently appointed as Commissioner for Special Services in Bayelsa.
He said that although Arthur initiated the prosecution in August 2018, his new appointment disqualified him from continuing with the matter.
But Arthur said that he was under no disability to discontinue appearances in the matter.
He said that his appointment letter was explicit on his job title as special prosecutor on violent crimes.
He said that his appointment would not be prejudicial to the prosecution of the case.
The judge deferred ruling on the application by the defence and adjourned the matter to January 31.