Florence Dada, 47-year-old former Chairlady of the Jakande Fruit Market in Ketu, Lagos, on Friday denied killing a fellow trader, Simiat Abdulazeez, during a fight in the market.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Dada testified before an Ikeja High Court where she is facing a charge of manslaughter, contrary to Section 227 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
She was led in evidence by her counsel, Mr A. A Fadun.
The defendant testified that her discovery of charms (juju) in her fruit stall was the cause of the July 7, 2015, fight that led to the death of Abdulazeez.
“On the evening of July 6, 2015, I went to my market stall and found native charms and human faeces in my fruit stall; I asked the trader, whose stall is next to mine, who the culprit was.
“I have always called her Iyawo Olopa as I do not know her real name. She replied by saying that it was the lunatics who roamed the market that defecated in my stall but that it is people like me who put the native charms in my stall.
“Iyawo Olopa started to hurl insults at me, and we started quarreling. That night, I proceeded to Ketu Police Station but I was informed that the policemen on duty were asleep because it was very late,”
The defendant told the court that she was accosted the following morning (July 7, 2015) by Iyawo Olopa and Abdulazeez, while she was buying pineapples in the market.
Dada alleged that Iyawo Olopa hired the deceased to join her in beating her (Dada) up.
“A fight ensued between us; during the scuffle, I pushed Iyawo Olopa and the deceased ran toward me.
“While she was running toward me, she stepped on a mango peel and hit her head on a stone when she fell.
“I never knew the deceased; I had an issue with Iyawo Olopa and she called on a friend of hers to join her in fighting me.
“When her friend laid motionless on the floor, Iyawo Olopa tried resuscitating her by pouring mango water on her face which was unsuccessful.
“Some unidentified persons in the crowd, which gathered, advised Iyawo Olopa to run away from the scene of the fight while I was caught and handed over to the police,” Dada said.
The defendant told the court that the
Chairman of the Fruit Market had promised her that if she would write a statement to the police, she will be set free.
“Instead, I was handcuffed and taken to the police station at Panti and later transferred to the Kirikiri Female Prison,” she said.
During cross-examination by state counsel, Mr O. A. Azeez, Dada said that she was made the chairlady of the Ketu Fruit Market in 2004, and held office until her arrest in 2015.
“Apart from Iyawo Olopa, I had no issue with anyone in the market.
“At the police station, my statement was written on my behalf based on my narration of events; the statement was shown to me and I signed it,” she said.
The prosecution counsel noted that Dada’s statement before the police was different from the evidence she gave in court but defence counsel objected to tendering of the statement in evidence, claiming that she was coerced to make the statement.
“Her statement to the police was not made voluntarily; she was induced; that is why it is at variance with her evidence,” Fadun said.
Justice Josephine Oyefeso upheld the objection of the defence and ordered a trial-within-trial to determine whether Dada’s statement was obtained through coercion by the police.
She adjourned the case until March 20 for the trial-within-trial.