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Offa robbery: Police alleged of killing suspect in custody

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THE Attorney-General of Kwara State, Kamaldeen Ajibade, has told the Ilorin High Court that Michael Adikwu, the prime suspect in the Offa robbery attack that occurred in April this year, died while in police custody, but many Nigerians believe he was murdered.

Ajibade said this on Wednesday when five of the robbery suspects were arraigned before Justice Halimat Salman on charges bordering on armed robbery and culpable homicide.

Adikwu, a former policeman who worked with the force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was said to have killed about 22 persons during the robbery attack. According to Jimoh Moshood, the spokesman of the Police, Adikwu was dismissed from the force for allegedly helping a criminal suspect to escape from custody. He was later charged to court and was sent to jail in 2013, and upon his release in 2015, he became an armed robber.

He was later arrested alongside many of his gang members, but people began to raise eyebrows when the police paraded the suspects in May, and Adikwu was not among them.

The suspects claimed that they were being sponsored by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, and had been used by both leaders to disrupt elections in the past. Both Saraki and Ahmed denied the allegations.

Also when Nigerians, including Saraki, started to ask questions regarding the whereabouts of the prime suspect of the robbery attack, especially following rumours that he was shot dead in the presence of the other suspects in order to coerce them to confess, Moshood insisted that he was alive and was still in custody.

“Michael Adikwu is in police custody. You know he is the one that led the killing of 22 people. He is helping the police in investigation… There is a state in the south-west where they kept him… ; that is where he is. I can’t mention the state. He is in one of the south-west states,” Moshood said at the time.

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Moshood had also accused the Kwara State government of foot-dragging in prosecuting the Offa robbery suspects, saying that the police had concluded its investigations and handed the case files to the State’s Attorney-General.

The police spokesman had said that more than 20 “principal suspects” were arrested in connection to the robbery incident, but only five persons were arraigned in court on Wednesday, namely: Ayoade Akinibosun, Ademola Abraham, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Niyi Ogundiran, and Salahu Azeez.

The suspects, however, could not take their pleas as the prosecution team, led by the Kwara Attorney-General, Ajibade, asked for an adjournment to enable it to amend the charges as a result of the death of Adikwu.

The trial judge granted the request and adjourned the case to November 30 for the suspects to enter their pleas.

When the ICIR contacted Jimoh Moshood on Wednesday, he said he had no idea where the reporter got his information from. When he was told that the information was given in court by the Kwara State Attorney-General, Moshood said could not comment on a matter that is already before the court.

Twitter reacts

However, many Nigerians who reacted to the development on the social media believe that Adikwu was either murdered by the police, perhaps to cover the real sponsors of the gang, or he had died as a result of torture at the hands of the security operatives.

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“(In) June 2018, I accused the Nigerian Police of murdering the mastermind of Offa Robbery and now it has been confirmed in court that armourer and mastermind, Michael Adikwu “died” in police custody,” tweeted Abdul Mahmud whose Twitter handle read ‘The Great Oracle’.

Another Twitter user wrote: “We’ve been waiting to hear a contradictory story, but it’s finally out that he died in custody, how did he die? we all know he was killed, simply because they want to nail it on someone! The Nigerian Police and their wayo ways.”

A Twitter handle with the username ‘A Concerned Nigerian’ wrote, “The Nigerian Police carries out extrajudicial killings EVERYDAY. Each day there is one suspect gunned down or tortured to death by the evil and unrepentant police officers. My elder brother, a few years ago, died in police custody before we could secure his bail. He was tortured by officers.”

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