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Offa robbery: Court adjourned case abruptly over security of life

High Court

A Kwara state High Court sitting in Ilorin on Thursday abruptly adjourned the resumed trial of Offa robbery suspects citing security reports.

The court had commenced sitting on the case at about 9am for the continuation of hearing as one of the prosecution witnesses, Hitila Hassan, continued to give his evidence-in-chief and was cross-examined by the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe.

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At some minutes past 2:00pm, the presiding Judge, Justice Halimat Salman said “reports reaching us are not favourable for the continuation of the case today. I don’t have anything doing but the court had to rise for the case to continue tomorrow.

“For the security of the suspects and all of us here, I have to rise. May God spare our lives till tomorrow for the continuation of hearing.”

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The five accused persons standing trial in connection with the April 5th, 2018 bloody robbery at Offa town in Offa local government area of the state, Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salaudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran were in court.

In his evidence-in-chief, Inspector Hassan said the confessional statement of the first suspect (Ayoade Akinnibosun) indicted the Chief of staff to Kwara state Government, Babatunde Abdulwahab, political adviser to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Lekan Alabi and one Adeola Omiyale.

He added that the first suspect alleged that he got the AK47 rifles allegedly used in the robbery incident from the above people, saying that informed their arrest by the police high command in Abuja.

Hassan, who said he is an inspector of police attached to the Intelligence Response Team of the former Inspector General of Police, added that it is headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Abba Kyari.

Hassan said he supervised the recording of the confessional statements of Ibikunle Ogunleye (2nd accused person) and Adeola Abraham (3rd accuse person), adding that he helped write those of the first accused (Akinnibosun) and 5th accused person (Niyi Ogundiran) and he countersigned as the writer.

Lead Prosecuting Counsel, Prof Wahab Egbewole, sought to tender the statements as exhibit but Mr. Emeribe objected.

He argued that the statements were not voluntarily taken, noting that they fell short of the provisions of the Evidence Act particularly sections 28 and 29.

“They fall short of the Kwara state Administration of Criminal Justice Law because as it did not show the voluntariness of the statements as stated, particularly as it concerns section 33 of the Kwara state Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2018.

“Even in the absence of the law they did not comply with the judge’s rules. It must be understood that Kwara state Administration of Justice Law 2018 was created to protect the rights of the accused when statement of this nature is about to be taken. Failure to yield to these provisions will automatically render the admissibility of same null and void.

“I hold the view that the statements have failed to pass the test of admissibility. I submit that they were not taken voluntarily as required by the law,” he said.

Reacting, Prof Egbewole said that section 33 of the Kwara state Administration of Criminal Justice Law is not applicable in the instance case.

He added that “law does not have retrospective effect, adding that the Kwara state Administration of Criminal Justice Law came into force December 3rd, 2018 and all these statements were recorded in May last year.”

The presiding judge adjourned the case till tomorrow, March 15th for continuation of hearing.

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