The Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has fixed March 29 to deliver its ruling in a ‘no-case submission’ filed by a boat driver, Elebiju Happiness, who is alleged to have caused the death of 13 of his passengers, including two children, in a boat mishap.
Happiness oversaw a commercial boat which had an accident on July 29, 2020, at about 5:45 pm on the Lagos’ waterways around Kirikiri.
He was arraigned before the court by the state government on a 10-count charge of involuntary manslaughter.
The charge was signed by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Olayinka Adeyemi who told the court the accident was caused by the defendants action of carrying passengers exceeding the capacity of the boat.
The DPP also claimed that this overcrowding and the illegal activities of boat operators led to the drowning of the 13 passengers.
The defendant pleaded not guilty to all 10 counts.
The offences contravened Section 224 and punishable under Section 229 of the Criminal Law CH C17 Vol. 3 Law of Lagos State 2015.
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The state closed its case against the defendant on February 4 after calling four witnesses, including some survivors of the boat mishap.
However, instead of opening his defence, Happiness informed the judge of his intention to file a no-case-submission.
At the resumed hearing of the matter today, Tuesday, the defendant through his counsel, Samuel Ogungbamila told the court that the defence had filed a no-case-submission application and had received the prosecution’s reply to same.
He said, “We have also filed a written address and we adopt the entire application as our argument in the matter.”
Ogungbamila prayed the court to discharge the defendant saying that the prosecution has failed to establish a prima facie case against his client.
Responding, the DPP told the court that the prosecution had also filed its response dated March 3, 2021, to the no-case-submission application.
She stated that the prosecution adopted the address as their leading arguments in the matter and urged the court to hold that the defendant had a case to answer going by the evidence presented before the court.
Justice Oyefeso has adjourned the case to March 29 for ruling.