The Nigeria Police Force has kept mum over the investigation and prosecution of suspects of the Offa armed robbery on April 5, 2018, resulting in the killing of more than a dozen people including policemen, bank workers, and customers.
The police have also not informed the public if the millions of naira stolen by the robbers have been recovered.
Last December, the police said it had yet to recover the loot.
Five suspects were later arrested and arraigned before Ilorin high court on the offence bordering on criminal conspiracy to rob the banks, robbery of the banks, conspiracy to murder, the murder of nine policemen and other innocent citizens, and illegal possession of firearms.
Efforts by SaharaReporters to confirm if the police have concluded the investigation and prosecution on the matter were unsuccessful as several calls made to the telephone of the police spokesman, Frank Mba, were not answered.
Mba also declined to respond to a text message sent to him.
In March this year, a suspect facing trial for his alleged involvement in the April 5 bank robbery accused the police of forcing him to indict Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The suspect, Friday Akininibosin, stated this while giving his
testimony at a high court in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
Akininibosin told the court that he had no personal knowledge of Saraki before he was arrested and that a former policeman allegedly involved in the robbery, Michael Adikwu, was killed for his inability to go with the alleged plan of the prosecutors.
Shortly after the April 5 robbery, the police cited confessions made by the accused persons during the investigation, as indicting Saraki.
The police also said a picture of one of the accused at a wedding with Saraki emerged, linking the then-Senate president with the armed robbers.
According to the police, the suspects alleged to have worked as political thugs for Saraki who allegedly supplied them with ammunition.
Saraki denied any wrongdoing and accused the police of victimizing him.
Akininibosin retracted his earlier stance and accused the police of masterminding his confession which he claimed was written for him by some policemen.
“My hands and legs were tied to the back and suspended in between two tables by iron rod for like one hour 30 minutes. Then the senior police officer, Abba Kyari, came around to tell me that I should say that it was the Senate president that gave us guns to rob Offa banks,” Akininibosin said.
“I told him my life is at stake here and that I wouldn’t do such. Then, he said I should do that for them and that they’ll pay me and thereafter set me free. I disagreed and was carried back to the cell on his instruction as I couldn’t walk.”
The accused further revealed, “I was shot on my two legs. I was later taken to Abba Kyari’s office, where he asked to know if I was ready to co-operate and I said yes and pleaded not to kill me.
The next day was when Michael Adikwu was brought to identify us and say what connected
us together. The dismissed officer said he didn’t know us and after much torture, he was shot dead in our presence.”
The police later confirmed Adikwu’s death in its custody but said he died of natural causes.
Akininibosin said a journalist was later brought in who took his confessional statement, allegedly made under duress.
“I was panicky, thinking I was next to die. Later, a female TV
journalist was brought by a police officer with a note, saying that was what they wanted me to say, and that if not, I will ‘travel’, meaning, I would be killed.
“That was how I agreed in the presence of the female journalist, who recorded while I was also beaten at intervals.”
In October 2018, the Kwara State government accused the Nigerian Police of being economical with the truth regarding the April 2018 robbery suspects in Offa.
The police had reportedly blamed the attorney-general and commissioner for justice for delaying the arraignment of the suspects.
They said they had concluded investigations and sent the case file to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who directed that the file be sent to the state Attorney-General.
Reacting to the police statement in Ilorin, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Kamaldeen Ajibade (SAN) described the police utterances as ‘cheap blackmail’.
Ajibade said: “I see this as a cheap blackmail by the police. They have something to hide, which they are yet to tell Nigerians. I am sure at the end of the day, Nigerians will know what has transpired in this matter. That is why the police are passing the buck.
“They can now see that Nigerians have started asking questions that if you’ve arrested suspects since April and they are yet to be arraigned, then there must be something about it. I urge people to ask questions about this matter.
“I am surprised, particularly the statement coming from the police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood. Moshood, without being personal, is from Ilorin. He has contacts and I am sure he follows events in the Kwara Command. He knows that the suspects are still with him at the police headquarters.
“Why will he now mislead the public that we are yet to prosecute? How can you prosecute people kept in Abuja in Kwara State High Court? It is not possible.”
The attorney-general added, “I want to confirm to you that a letter was written from the Office of the Director of the Public Prosecution of the Federation under the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation. My office received the letter on August 27.
“The content of the letter had to do with the investigation report on the Offa robbery and directing my office to take up the prosecution of the matter.
“Immediately we received this letter on September 6, we wrote a letter through the Office of the State Director of the Public Prosecution to the Office of the Attorney-General requesting them to provide for us the original case diary in the Offa robbery and to transfer the suspects to Kwara State Police Command. We waited for about three
weeks and did not hear anything from them.
“I then met the AIG Legal, David Ogbodo and requested that the original case diary be sent to Kwara to enable us to start prosecution of the matter. I also requested him to send the suspects to Kwara State and he told me that he had directed the man in charge. That is Abba Kyari.
“We waited for another week, we could not get anything from them. So, I directed my DPP to liaise with the police this time. He liaised with the police both in the state and with Abbah Kyari. They promised everyday that they would send the suspects to Kwara and the original case diary, to no avail.
“You cannot prosecute under the law without having the original case diary. You cannot even file a charge without the case diary and in filing a charge, you have to exhibit what we call proof of evidence.
“This proof of evidence entails the statements of witnesses.
Statements of witnesses in this sense, we are talking of the people that investigated Offa robbers. We don’t have all this with us. We don’t have the suspects on the ground, we don’t have the witnesses on the ground.
“How do you file a charge? How do you prosecute people you cannot see?”