Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Hearing in the April 5, 2018 deadly Offa bank armed robbery case resumed yesterday before Justice Halimat Salman of the Kwara State High Court, after about a year since it was adjourned.
Policeman, Michael Adikwu (deceased), Ayoade Akinnibosun, Azeez Salahudeen, Niyi Ogundiran, Ibikunle Ogunleye and Adeola Abraham were arrested in connection with the bloody armed robbery.
Ayoade Akinnibosun and four others are currently standing trial in the case which began on November 11, 2018.
On April 5, 2018, some suspected armed robbers attacked five commercial banks in the ancient Offa town in the Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State, killing over 30 persons in the process, including nine policemen.
The five suspects, Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham and two others were charged to court by the Police for criminal conspiracy to rob the banks, murder of nine policemen and other citizens, and illegal possession of firearms.
Michael Adikwu died in police custody while the remaining five pleaded not guilty.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, the fifth defendant, Niyi Ogundiran, who is the ninth witness, was examined and cross-examined by the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe and prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob respectively.
Speaking after the hearing, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob, said that he had closed its case, while the defence team are calling their own witnesses to give evidence.
He said that the hearing would run for three days, starting Tuesday till Thursday after which adoption of address by the two sides would be taken by the court.
Answering questions on rather long time the case had taken so far, the prosecution counsel said that it’s not the fault of the court nor any party.
“My Lord was taken to election tribunal for one year. That delayed the hearing. A lot of other things, e.g. strike and all the rest. Nobody liked it. That’s why we devoted three days to be able to conclude it this time around by Thursday and then we’ll address the court,” he said.
Also spaking, the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe, said two of the witnesses were taken yesterday , namely Niyi Ogundiran and Adeola Abraham, who gave their testimony about the robbery in Offa for the defendants.
Niyi Ogundiran, while being cross examined, said that he could not remember his date of birth, his age nor how many years he stayed in secondary school which he attended before he dropped out.
Prosecution counsel pointed it out to Ogundiran that he did not state, throughout, in any of his statement that he was not in Offa on the day of the incident.
However, the witness while being examined by his own counsel, said that the statement he gave police was made under duress, adding that he was tortured by police, who he said asked him to cooperate with them.
He also said that he was taken to his hometown in Oro for search of his house, where he said that only N2,000 was found by a team of police investigators after the search of his three rooms and parlour.
Another suspect, Adeola Abraham, who said that he is into log wood business and a politician, said that he was arrested because he had had political altercation with the former Information and Culture minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who he said was one of the APC leaders then, during a Ward Congress in the area.
“The police investigators told me that I would be taught lessons for speaking against Lai Mohammed. They asked if we were Saraki Boys.”
He told the court how the former Commander, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) squad, ACP Abba Kyari, and his team tortured them in a place called “theatre.”
There, the suspect said five herdsmen were killed in his presence, adding that he was mercilessly tortured and shot in the leg in order to implicate himself.
Abraham added that one of the robbery suspects, Micheal Adikwu, was shot dead in his presence, a situation that got him terrified, and made him to do their bidding.
However, the presiding judge, Justice Halimat Salman, adjourned the case till Wednesday, January 17, 2024 for continuation of the hearing.