A seven-member jury has been empanelled at the Sekondi High Court for the trial of two Nigerians charged with the kidnapping and murder of four girls in Takoradi, in the Western Region, in 2018.
The process was characterised by drama as the two accused persons, Samuel Udoetuk Wills, trader, and John Orji, salesman, without any reasons, objected to six out of the 13 names mentioned.
However, the court reminded them that they each had a right to reject up to three jury members without reasons.
Swearing-in the jury on Wednesday, the presiding judge, Justice Richard Adjei-Frimpong, cautioned them not to compromise their duty.
He reminded them that the Takoradi kidnapping case, which had travelled for long, had gained public interest, and, therefore, they “must always be mindful of their sacred duty.”
Justice Adjei-Frimpong also announced that there was a special request from the Chief Justice for the case to be expedited and he would work towards it.
“Your duty is to basically assist the court to give a final ruling. Pay attention to all proceedings to help you in the final decision which rests with you. Be punctual and not to be swayed by what goes on outside or in the media, and don’t discuss it. You are judges yourself and don’t behave anyhow, since you will face the law, if you breach your oath,” he stressed.
Wills and Orji had pleaded not guilty to eight counts of conspiracy and murder.
The accused, who at the previous sitting had no legal representation, finally got one, after the court had written to the Legal Aid Board.
Their counsel, Mark Bosiah, prayed the court to grant him access to relevant documents in the case and the accused.
He also prayed that the accused persons were allowed access to some of their belongings, including gadgets and money taken from them at the time of their arrest.
The prosecution, led by the Chief State Attorney, Patience Kilongo, recalled that between July and December, 2018, the two accused persons were involved in the kidnapping of four girls in Takoradi.
She mentioned that the accused kidnapped Priscilla Blessing Bentum, 21, at Kansaworodo whiles Ruth Love Quayson, 18, Priscilla Mantebea, 15 and Ruth Abeka, were also captured at different locations in the Sekondi-Metropolis.
The accused, who demanded ransoms from the victims’ parents, were later arrested in 2019 to assist the police in their investigations.
Ms Klionogo told the court that the police forensic results of human remains found at Kansaworodo in Takoradi proved 99.99 per cent confirmation that they were the remains of the four Takoradi kidnapped girls, hence their charge.
Meanwhile, Justice Adjei-Frimpong adjourned sitting to Thursday, August 6, for the court to hold a case management conference to find out whether the prosecution has filed all documents, including witness statements, relevant to the case.
The court would also determine whether the accused persons have been served, and whether accused persons have also filed any documents they intend to rely on during the trial.
FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, SEKONDI