Suspected ritualist, Ifeanyi Dike, collapsed on Friday when his trial commenced at the Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Dike was arraigned before Justice Adolphus Enebeli after he reportedly murdered an eight-year-old girl, Chikamso Favour, in the state after allegedly raping her and harvesting her genitals sometime in August 2017.
Also brought before Justice Enebeli were Ogochukwu Nnamiro (the second accused person) and Sergeant Johnbosco Okoroeze (the third accused person), who were arraigned as accessories after the fact.
A mild drama ensued as the principal suspect gave a loud shout after his case was mentioned in the court.
He, however, refused to take his plea.
His counsel, Lizinna Ameegua, urged the court to order that a mental examination be carried out on him to ascertain his mental status but the judge declined the request.
Dike consequently collapsed while the court entered a plea of ‘not guilty’ for him.
Meanwhile, the second and third accused persons have also pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them.
Justice Enebeli then adjourned the matter till January 16, 26 and 29, 2018 for definite hearing.
The judge also noted said that the matter would be heard on a day-to-day basis.
Earlier in the court, Dike’s counsel raised an objection to the trial on the ground that the information filed by the prosecution was incomplete.
He then appealed to the court to discharge the first accused person but Justice Enebeli dismissed the injection.
Briefing reporters outside the courtroom, Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Emmanuel Aguma, said he expects the case to be heard expeditiously.
Reacting to the adjournment of the case, Aguma said, “no party in the case is entitled to more than three adjournments in the course of the hearing.
“One of the reasons for the adjournment on Friday was for Ifeanyi Dike to get medical attention.”
On her part, the Secretary of the International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA), Nnenna Igbokwe, was confident that justice would be achieved now that trial has commenced.