From Oluseyi Dasilva Ilorin
As the trial within trial into the Offa bank robbery of April 2018 continued on Friday at the State High Court sitting in Ilorin, the Kwara State caital, heartbreaking revelations have emerged from testimonies of the five suspects involved in the matter.
Standing before Justice Halimah Salman, the suspects told the court that the confessional statements said to have been made by them were obtained under duress by the police.
The first suspect, Ayoade Akinnibosun, in his testimony, told the trial judge that he gave his statement under duress and not voluntarily.
“I had my hands tied to my back. I was hung between two tables, beaten mercilessly and late given a blank paper and asked to copy what was written in another paper. When I was reluctant to write, I was shot in my legs, first the right, later, the left leg. Mr Abakyari instructed me to say that the Senate President gave us guns with which we robbed at the bank.”
“He promised to give me money and also assist in my release if I cooperate with him. When I was not cooperating, he asked that I be returned tomy cell and the torture process started all over.
“An officer, called OC Sars came in, pointed gun at me and said ‘we want to use you. Right in my presence, some men were killed, this scared me and so I decided to cooperate with them and I wrote the statement.”
He explained that he was tortured and shot in two legs, alleging that the police asked him to implicate the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and he succumbed afterwards because he doesn’t want to die.
Akinnibosun claimed that five men were shot dead in his presence and that of other suspects, in order to force them to do the bidding of the police.
He alleged that he was forced to sleep on the corpes of the men that were killed, adding that his hands and legs were tied for days.
The suspect also told the trial judge that six hefty stones were placed on his back and denied food for nearly one week while he was being tortured.
He said they were kept inside the generator room at Police Headquarters Abuja while a dismissed police officer, identified as Michael Adiukwu, was brought to identify them if they were part of the robbery gang.
According to Akinnibosun, the man denied knowing them and was shot dead on the spot.
Afterwards, he said he was shown an already written statement which he was asked to sign and agreed to do so for fear of being killed.
The suspect insisted that whatever he said during the parade to the press conference was written for him to memorise and read at the press briefing.
He claimed that the police warned him not to implicate them that the statement was made under duress.
Akinnibosun told the trial judge that he was given a four-page statement to sign but he could not because his fingers were not functioning due to torture.
He said one of his fingers was placed on the documents for thumb printing and his request to read and go through the statement was turned down.
After giving his testimony, the suspect was cross-examined by the prosecution counsel.
Meanwhile, the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe, asked for further medical checkup to determine if the wounds Akinnibosun sustained were truly from gunshots.
Justice Salman, however, turned down the request until proper trial.
The second accused, Ibikunle Ogunleye, was thereafter called to the dock and he corroborated the first accused, Akinnibosun’s testimony of how he was tortured and how Michael Adiukwu was killed.
In his testimony, the third accused person Abraham Adeola also repeated the same process of how they were tortured both at the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) office in Ilorin and Abuja.