Two men charged with armed robbery before an Ikeja High Court told the judge that they were framed up by the police for refusing to offer bribe after their arrest more than five years ago.
The two men – Kingsley Ogwunze and Benjamin Nwafor – while testifying before Justice Lateefat Okunnu, told the court that they were arrested separately at Charity Bus Stop on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway on December 7, 2008 and had never met until February 4, 2009 when they were first paired up by the police for arraignment at an Ikeja Magistrate Court.
According to them, they were remanded in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, Lagos, after their arraignment on a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy and armed robbery.
Ogwunze, the first defendant, who claimed to be an undertaker, said he was arrested by plain-clothes policemen while he was going to collect money from a customer and that despite showing the policemen his identity card and driver’s licence, they still bundled him into a commercial bus along with some other persons.
“When we were inside the bus, they told me to cooperate and that I should give them money. But I refused because I had done nothing wrong. As we were going, the bus stopped and some persons came and gave the policemen money to release their relatives and friends, who were also in the bus,” he said.
He said he was later taken to Makinde Police Station, Mafoloku, where the Police detained him for several weeks after seizing his wallet and mobile phone which prevented him from reaching his family members in Abia.
“From there, I was taken to Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, where I was tortured physically for several weeks to make a confessional statement. Later, one Inspector Cyprian, came to meet me that if I could raise money that they will let me go, but I told him I had no money.”
Ogwunze said he was eventually charged to court for allegedly conspiring with the second defendant, Nwafor and others at large for robbing people of their mobile phones.
Under cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, Femi Adamson, the first defendant insisted on his innocence.
He said: “I have never met the second defendant and I do not know him. My Lord, the job I do is far better than snatching of mobile phones. I want the court to strike out this case because I do not know anything about it and my future is at stake.”
Also testifying, Nwafor, who claimed to be a trader, corroborated the first defendant’s claim.
He said he had never met Ogwunze and was surprised when they were charged to court together.
The case has been adjourned to March 3 for adoption of final addresses.