Offa Bank Robbery: Why the Prosecution of Suspects Delayed, Says Kwara Attorney General

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Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

The Kwara State Government yesterday said the inability of the Nigeria Police Force to release the original case file and hand-over suspects arrested in connection with the last April Offa Bank robbery to the state has delayed the commencement of the full prosecution of the case.

The government however, berated the police authority for allegedly stalling the prosecution and not the state government as being alleged by the Police.

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Kamaldeen Ajibade (SAN) made this disclosure in Ilorin, yesterday during a press conference.

According to him, “It is a ‘cheap blackmail’ allegations by the Nigerian Police that the state was deliberately stalling the prosecution of suspects arrested over the April 5, 2018, deadly robbery in Offa, headquarters of Offa local government area of the state”.

He added, “Instead, Nigerians should ask the police why it has allegedly refused to hand over the original case diary of its investigations as well as the suspects to his office for prosecution contrary to claims made by the police through the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) Jimoh Moshood.”

Ajibade, while acknowledging that his office received a letter from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) in September asking him to go ahead with the prosecution of the suspects, lamented that every effort to secure the original case diary, which he described as critical to the prosecution, as well as the suspects, have been rebuffed by the Police.

“I want to confirm to you that a letter was written from the office of the Director of the Public Prosecution of the Federation under the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. My office received the letter on August 27 this year and the content of the letter had to do with the investigation report on the Offa robbery and directing my office to take up the prosecution of the matter.

“Immediately we received this letter, on September 6, 2018, we wrote a letter through the office of the State Director of the Public Prosecution to the office of the Attorney General requesting from them to provide for us the original case diary in the Offa robbery and also to transfer the suspects to the Kwara State Police command. We waited for about three weeks and did not hear anything from them.

“I then took it upon myself to personally meet with the AIG Legal, one David Ogbodo, and I requested that the original case diary be sent to Kwara to enable us start prosecution of the matter. I also requested him to send all the suspects to Kwara State and he told me that he had directed the man in charge, which is one Abba Kyari.

“We waited for another week; we could not get anything from them. So I directed my DPP to liaise with the police this time around. He liaised with the police both in the state and also with Kyari. They promised every day that they would send the suspects to Kwara State and the original case diary.

“You cannot prosecute under the law without having the original case diary. You cannot even file a charge without the case diary and in filing a charge you have to exhibit what we call proof of evidence. This proof of evidence entails the statements of witnesses. Statements of witnesses in this sense we are talking of the people that investigated Offa robber. We don’t have all these with us. We don’t have the suspects on ground; we don’t have the witnesses on ground. How do you file a charge? How do you prosecute people you cannot see?

“I see this as a cheap blackmail from the police and at this instance they have something to hide which they are yet to tell Nigerians about this case. I am sure at the end of the day Nigerians will know what has transpired in this matter. That is why the police are now passing the bucks.

“They can now see that Nigerians have started asking questions that if you arrested suspects since April this year and they are yet to be charged to court; then there must be something about it. I urge Nigerians to ask questions about this matter.

“I am surprised particularly the statement coming from the police spokesperson. Moshood, without being personal, is from Ilorin here. He has contacts and I am sure he follows up with events in the Kwara command and he knows too well that all the suspects are still with him at the police headquarters. Why will he now come to mislead the public that we are yet to prosecute? How can you prosecute people kept in Abuja in Kwara state High Courts? It is not possible.”