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After one year adjournment, Offa robbery case resumes in Kwara

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After an adjournment lasting almost one year, the celebrated deadly Offa robbery case of April 5, 2018, resumed on Tuesday before Justice Halimat Salman of the Kwara State High Court.

Policeman, Michael Adikwu (deceased), Ayoade Akinnibosun, Azeez Salahudeen, Niyi Ogundiran, Ibikunle Ogunleye and Adeola Abraham were arrested in connection with the bloody armed robbery in which about 30 innocent persons were reportedly killed.

Ayoade Akinnibosun and four others are currently standing trial in the case which began on November 11, 2018.

Recall that on April 5, 2018, some suspected armed robbers attacked five commercial banks in the ancient Offa town in 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 allegedly died in police custody while the remaining five pleaded not guilty.

At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, 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 court hearing, the prosecution counsel, Barrister Rotimi Jacob, said the prosecution counsel had closed its case, while the defence team had opened their case.

He said the hearing would run for three days, starting Tuesday till Thursday after which adoption of written address by the two sides would be taken by the court.

Answering questions on how long 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 the election tribunal for one year. That delayed the hearing. A lot of other things, example strike and all the rest.

“Nobody liked it. That’s why we devoted three days to conclude it this time around by Thursday and then we’ll address the court”, he said.

Also speaking, the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe, said two of the witnesses were taken on Tuesday, namely Niyi Ogundiran and Adeola Abraham, who gave their testimony about the robbery in Offa for the defendants.

Under cross examination, Niyi Ogundiran, said 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.

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The prosecution counsel pointed out to Ogundiran that he did not state in 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 the police was made under duress, adding that he was tortured by the 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, a politician, who said that he is into log wood business, disclosed that he was allegedly arrested because he had a political altercation with the former Information and culture minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, 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 said.

He further 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”.

The suspect said five herdsmen were allegedly killed there 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 allegedly shot dead in his presence, a situation that got him terrified, and made him do their bidding.

The presiding judge, Justice Halimat Salman, adjourned the case till today, Wednesday, January 17, 2024, for continuation of hearing.

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