Offa robbery suspects plead not guilty
Five suspected armed robbers arrested in connection with bank robbery in Offa town of Kwara State in April this year have pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them. This is just as the Ilorin High Court, where they were arraigned, granted the application of the prosecution by striking out the name of the sixth suspect, Michael Adikwu, who was the first accused person, but who the court was told two weeks ago, died in Police custody.
The five accused persons were arraigned in a five-count charge, including being armed with guns and explosives and conspiring to rob five banks, contrary to provision of Section 6 (b) of Robert and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act CAP R11 Laws of Federation of Nigeria. 2004.
Other charges are robbery; conspiracy to murder nine Police officers and innocent people; culpable homicide, punishable with death and illegal possession of firearm.The accused persons, Ayoade Akinibosun, Ibikunke Ogunleye, Adelola Abraham, Salaudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran, however, all pleaded not guilty to the offences.
Earlier, efforts by Counsel to the accused, Mathias Emeribe, to seek adjournment for plead taking was not fruitful, as the court rule against him.Emeribe, who said he was briefed about the matter only on Thursday and was yet to have audience with the accused, pleaded for more time to enable him meet with them and advise them on the taking of the plea.
But prosecutor, Kamaldeen Ajibade, who is the state’s Attorneys General and Commissioner for Justice, countered, saying the adjournment being sought was not necessary because since the case has to do with capital offences, the court must by law record plea of not guilty for the accused even if they pleaded guilty.
After the accused had taken the plea, Ajibade asked the court for adjournment for a week to enable the prosecution prepare its evidences and come with its witnesses.
However, Emeribe asked for a longer time, as he would want to be availed with a video recording of the scene of the crime and confessional statements the prosecution has listed for the proceedings.Ajibade said the compact disc containing the video recording was still with the Force Headquarters in Abuja and that the prosecution had intended to request for it. The presiding Judge, Justice Halima Salman, adjourned the matter until January 7, next year, for commencement of hearing.