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Offa bank robbery: Drama as police arrest suspect’s sister in court

The ongoing trial of the April 5, 2018 deadly bank robbery in Offa, Kwara State, took a dramatic twist on Friday as police arrested one…

The ongoing trial of the April 5, 2018 deadly bank robbery in Offa, Kwara State, took a dramatic twist on Friday as police arrested one Omolara Ogundiran, a sister of one of the suspects.

Omolara, a graduate of Ire Poly, Osogbo, is the younger sister of the 5th defendant, Niyi Ogundiran.
She was taken away around past 3:40 pm by operatives of the Kwara State Police Command immediately after the trial that started at 9:00 am.
The defence counsel, Barrister Mathias Emeribe, told pressmen that he would have to find out the reason for the arrest.
“Why they are arresting her, I don’t know. But she is one of our witnesses who had come to tender documents and I have been told that they wanted her at the state CID in respect of the matter. Until I get there before I know what the situation is.
“They intended taking her away earlier but I resisted it because she is a witness and I wouldn’t want a situation where after she had gone, the testimony she would give would be different from what she is supposed to give.
“So I sought the protection of the court which was graciously granted by the trial judge that she can only be taken away after the court has ruled in respect of the matter”, Emeribe noted.
However, speaking on the arrest, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacob (SAN) said “there are bold consequences for trying to deceive the court.”
“You heard from the proceedings today (Friday) where the witness went to Osogbo to collect a fresh receipt that bothers on the issue that his brother was there to buy spare parts on the day of the robbery. She was issued a receipt dated April 5, 2018 which she brought to the court.
“But you had her telling the court that the receipt was issued last year backdated to the date of the crime,” Jacob added.
He said both parties had closed their cases and would now proceed to address the court for the adoption of written addresses after which the court would adjourn for judgment.
Earlier while giving evidence, Omolara (PW11) had told the court that she “went to Osogbo to collect a receipt for some motor spare parts of the vehicle bought by Niyi on the day of the robbery.”
She added, “When I got to Mallam Ali shop (motor spare parts seller), I met him attending to a customer and he said I should sit down and prayed for one not to be unfortunate in any situation.
“So he opened the receipt and saw the duplicate before he issued another one to me and I left. I saw Mallam Ali inside the court premises today and he greeted me. But I can’t see him inside the court now.”
However, during cross examination, Omolara told the court that “I am a Christian and attended primary school in Ise Ekiti. I also went to secondary school in Oro but don’t remember the name before I proceeded to Ire Poly for my OND.
“I can’t remember the day, month, but it was last year 2023 that I went to Osogbo for the receipt. Mallam Ali wrote the receipt in my presence before he gave it to me and wrote the date that my brother came to buy the items (backdated it to April 5, 2018).
“I didn’t go to Osogbo with Niyi Ogundiran, the 5th defendant. I didn’t sign the customer’s section in the receipt but Mallam Ali did and I cannot remember who signed it.
“When I came back to Ilọrin, the receipt was with me and I only gave it to my lawyer when they were talking about it. I was in court when my brother was given evidence on the case. Niyi and I are siblings but it’s God that will fight for him not me”, she submitted.
In her ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Halimat Salman, rejected the receipt as evidence, describing it as a sham.
She said the defendant cannot seek to tender any evidence through the backdoor while they had all the opportunity to do so at various stages of the trial since it started over five years.
She adjourned the case till Tuesday April 9, 2024 for adoption of written addresses by the counsel.
Daily Trust reports that at the resumed hearing on January 16, 2024, the fifth defendant, Niyi Ogundiran, who is the ninth witness, told the court that he could not remember his date of birth, age nor the number of years he stayed in secondary school which he attended before he dropped out.
Prosecution counsel pointed it out to Ogundiran that he did not state in any of his statements that he was not in Offa on the day of the incident.
However, the witness, while being examined by his own counsel, said that the statement he gave police was made under duress, adding that he was tortured by police, who he said asked him to cooperate with them.
He also said that he was taken to his hometown in Oro for search of his house, where he said that only N2,000 was found by a team of police investigators after the search of his three rooms and parlour.
Other suspects arrested over the incident were policeman Michael Adikwu (deceased), Ayoade Akinnibosun, Azeez Salahudeen, Ibikunle Ogunleye and Adeola Abraham.
Ayoade Akinnibosun and four others are currently standing trial in the case which began on November 11, 2018.
The suspected armed robbers attacked five commercial banks in Offa killing over 30 persons in the process, including nine policemen.
They were charged by the police with criminal conspiracy to rob the banks, murder of nine policemen and other citizens, and illegal possession of firearms.
Michael Adikwu died in police custody while the remaining five pleaded not guilty.

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