Offa robbery: I made statement under duress, suspect says

Offa robbery: I made statement under duress, suspect says

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ONE of the suspects in the April 5, 2018 robbery incident in Offa, Kwara State, Salawu Azeez, on Friday told the State High Court in Ilorin, the state capital, that the police extracted confessional statement from him by threatening his life.

Azeez also narrated how policemen allegedly shot six persons dead in his presence in Abuja.

He said that the policemen interrogating him did so purposely to coerce him to admit his alleged participation in the bank robbery attacks in Offa where 18 people, including policemen, were reportedly killed.

All the accused persons, Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salahudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran, were present in court.

Azeez, the fourth defendant, had said earlier during cross examination in the trial within trial: “That same day, Inspector Hassan directed Officer Vincent to go and bring five people from

somewhere. They asked me to watch what they would do to the five persons and that they would do same to me if I didn’t cooperate with them.

“They killed the five persons in my presence. They also shot Akinnibosun, Adeola and Ogunleye in the legs in my presence. They threatened to kill me but I started begging that I didn’t do anything wrong.

“They said Ogunleye and I robbed in Offa and I denied this, but they insisted. They beat me mercilessly inside a generator house otherwise called theatre.

“It is a lie that they interrogated me in a conducive environment.

“On the second day, I was brought out again from the cell. They showed a man to me and asked me whether I knew him. The man is Michael Adikwu. I said I didn’t know him.

“They also asked him whether he knows me but he said no. They killed him in my presence.

“I pleaded with them not to kill me because my children are still young.

“They tied me down and hung me again. I then asked them what they wanted from me when the torture became unbearable.”

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Salawu further claimed that he was forced to thumb print a statement already prepared by the police against his consent.

This was even as defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe, prayed the court to order the exhumation of the corpse of a principal suspect in the robbery, Michael Adikwu, who allegedly died in police custody in Abuja.

This, he said, was necessary to determine whether the cause of Adikwu’s death was natural or otherwise.

He said that attempts by the prosecution to impress it on the court that there are only five suspects in the case amount to suppression of facts.

He recalled that when the case first came up in October 2018, six suspects were listed on the charge sheet, including Michael Adikwu, who the police later claimed to have died in their custody.

Mr. Emeribe therefore urged the court not to rely on the confessional statements of the suspects.

He added that the contradictions in the evidence of prosecution “are not witnesses of truth,” urging “the court to hold that the prosecution is lying.”

But prosecution counsel, Prof Abdulwahab Egbewole (SAN), said that contradictions in the dates when the suspects claimed they were interrogated and the police records showed that they were only cooking up stories about their alleged torture and coercion.

He therefore urged the court not to admit the confessional statements by the suspects.

The presiding judge, Justice Haleema Salman, adjourned the case to July 22.

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