Justice Kate Abiri, Chief Judge of Bayelsa has declined an application to have the rape trial of Chief Richard Kpodo, a former Security Adviser to ex-Governor Timipre Sylva transferred to another judge.
It would be recalled that the ongoing trial of Kpodo, charged for rape of a 26 year old cashier in his (Kpodo’s) hotel was on October 31 halted following an application by the accused to the Chief Judge.
The trial judge, Justice I Eradiri had in a reaction to the development ruled that the case was adjourned indefinitely to await the decision of the Chief Judge of Bayelsa.
At the resumed hearing on Friday, trial judge Justice Eradiri informed parties to the case that the Chief Judge had declined the request of the accused.
“The Chief judge turned down the request made by the accused and the counsel to the accused, Julious Iyekoroghe approached this court with a motion on notice seeking that I disqualify myself from hearing the case.
“The motion had alleged that I am biased based on denial of bail application and the comments I made that the charge was a serious one and therefore an indication of bias.
“When bias is alleged, the issues to be examined is whether a reasonable person following the case will consider the judge biased, otherwise no judge will be able to conclude a trial as accused persons will endlessly allege bias.
“Haven examined the motion on notice and the response of the prosecution and concluded that the motion has no iota of merit and is hereby dismissed and the case is hereby adjourned to January 24 for defense,” Eradiri ruled.
In his response, defense counsel to the accused, Iyekoroghe thanked the judge for the decision and notified the court that the decision would be challenged at a higher court.
“We shall put this ruling to test at a higher level,” the defense counsel said.
Kpodo, was on July 31, 2018 arraigned for alleged rape at High Court 7 after being earlier arraigned before a magistrates’ court in Yenagoa.
Kpodo was charged on two counts of unlawful detention and rape of the victim, a 26 year old female cashier at the hotel run by the accused.
The victim had earlier testified alongside her uncle and a medical doctor who examined her on June 9, after she had been allegedly raped the previous day.