© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Offa robbery suspects plead not guilty, trial to commence January 2019
FIVE suspected armed robbers that allegedly took part in the Offa bank robbery incident in April this year were arraigned before the Kwara State High Court, Ilorin, on Friday, and they pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
The suspects, namely: Ayoade Akinibosun, Ademola Abraham, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Niyi Ogundiran, and Salahu Azeez, were charged with five counts of conspiracy, robbery, illegal possession of firearms and culpable homicide.
They earlier had been arraigned on November 21, but they could not take their pleas as the prosecution team, led by the Kwara Attorney-General, Kamaldeen Ajibade, asked for an adjournment to enable an amendment in the charges as a result of the death of the principal suspect, Michael Adikwu, in police custody.
At the court on Friday, the counsel to the suspects, Mathias Abaribe, asked that trial Judge, Halimah Salma, to give him one week to meet with his clients and prepare for their defence, but the prosecutor raised objections to the request.
Justice Salma, subsequently adjourned the case till January 7, 2019, for the commencement of a definite trial.
Over 30 persons were killed in the Offa robbery incident which saw five commercial banks broken into in broad daylight by daredevil armed robbers, led by Adikwu, a former Special Anti-Robbery Squad operative of the Nigerian Police Force.
According to the police, Adikwu was responsible for the killing of 22 of the victims. He suddenly collapsed and died during interrogation, police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood said.
During their arraignment, the suspects said they were funded and armed by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, for whom they work as political thugs.
They, however, said the leaders did not send them on the robbery operation, neither were they aware of it.
Both Saraki and Ahmed have denied the allegations.
The police said they had arrested 22 suspects in connection with the Offa robbery incident, adding that the investigation had been concluded, and are ready for prosecution.