Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
The ongoing trial of the five suspected armed robbers that robbed a bank in Offa, Kwara State, on April 5, 2018, yesterday continued at the state High Court in Ilorin, as the court refused a post-mortem analysis on the corpse of late principal suspect, Michael Adikwu, in the bank robbery incident.
However, the court granted the prayer of the defence asking for an independent examination of the alleged gunshot injuries sustained by the first, second and third accused persons in the case.
Earlier, the fifth accused person (Niyi Ogundiran) narrated in the court how the police extracted a confessional statement from him under duress.
The first, second and third accused persons had at the last adjourned date accused the police of shooting them on the legs to instill fear in them before extracting statement from them.
They also alleged that the police shot and killed Adikwu while in their custody contrary to what the police said that the man died of an ailment in a hospital.
As a result, the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe, said: “In view of the fact that the four accused persons had given their stories, I hereby apply for an independent medical examination of the legs of the first, second and third accused persons to determine whether the wounds on their legs are products of gunshots.
“I also ask for an order to carry out autopsy on the death of Adikwu, the principal suspect, in order to find corroboration to evidence of especially the fifth accused person as well as all the other three persons.
“The essence of this is not unconnected to the fact that Adikwu was initially one of the accused persons charged along with others, and it is also important that one of their own was allegedly killed before them.
“The fact of the cause of the death must be determined in order to find out the truth as to how the confessional statements were obtained.
“The name Michael Adikwu was repeated consistently by all the four accused persons in this trial within trial, and I think it will be in the interest of justice for the accused persons to put in a proper defence to get the result of that medical examination.”
But the prosecution counsel, Prof Wahab Egbewole (SAN), opposed the application vehemently, describing it as strange.
Egbewole said: “I urge the court to refuse this strange application; justice is not a one way traffic. It is available to all the parties and not only for the accused.
“For the record, this is a trial within trial specifically to determine the voluntariness of the statements of the accused persons.
“It is not for the court to look for evidence to corroborate his allegation. It is for him to do that.
“This application is tantamount to inviting your lordship to come to the arena. The application is clearly shopping for evidence. The shooting of Adikwu has no relevance to the issues of a trial within trial.”
Having listened to both parties, presiding judge, Justice Halima Salman, took a short break of proceeding before delivering her ruling.
In her ruling, Justice Salman said: “The court will avail all the parties all the facilities available in this case. It is therefore in the interest of justice and fair hearing to allow for a medical examination to know whether the healed wounds on the three suspects’ legs emanated from gunshots. I therefore grant the first prayer.
“On the post-mortem examination of the corpse of the dead Michael Adikwu, there is nothing the autopsy will add to this case. It is baseless and pointless to grant the second prayer.”
She ordered the court Registrar to prepare the “enroll order today to be served on both the defence and prosecution.”
Justice Salman therefore adjourned the case to April 8 for continuation of defence in trial within trial.