By Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Five suspected armed robbers allegedly involved in the April 5, 2018 deadly bank robbery in Offa town, Kwara State where over 30 casualties were recorded yesterday pleaded not guilty to the five-count charges preferred against them at the state High Court, Ilorin.
During the heist, about nine policemen and 21 other innocent people were killed in the ancient town of Offa.
However, when the matter came up on Friday, the accused persons, Ayoade Akinibosun, Ademola Abraham, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Niyi Ogundiran and Salahu Azeez, were represented by Mathias Emeribe, as the only defence counsel.
The five count charges preferred against the five suspects included conspiracy to commit robbery of five banks while armed with dangerous weapons and explosives, contrary to 2004 Criminal Law 1 sub section 2.
Also, the five accused persons allegedly committed armed robbery on five commercial banks while armed with dangerous weapons and explosives.
Others include alleged murder of nine police officers, including three female police officers and many unidentified residents of the ancient town of Offa during deadly armed robbery attack on five banks on April 5, 2018.
Also, they were charged with culpable homicide of nine police officers and many other innocent people during the deadly bank robbery, an offence punishable with death.
The suspects were also accused of being in possession of illegal firearms, including two AK 47 rifles and other dangerous weapons.
All the five suspects, who pleaded not guilty to the five count charges also said that they were not in Offa town on the day of the armed robbery.
All the accused persons also said that they did not conspire with anyone to rob the banks or had any intention to kill anyone, adding that they had never held firearms.
Earlier, the court had struck out name of the first accused person, Michael Adikwu, said to have died in police custody, from the case after the prosecution and the state Attorney General, Kamaldeen Ajibade, filed an application to amend the charge.
Highlight of the court proceeding was the absence of compact disc, containing confessional video evidence, which the defence counsel said he was yet to lay his hands on.
Also, the prosecution said that he was not in possession of the disc, explaining that it was still in Police headquarters, Abuja, and yet to be released to him.
The presiding judge, Halima Salman, therefore, adjourned the matter till January 7, 2019 to give the parties ample time to be in possession of the exhibit.