By Kayode Adeoti
Following the release of the case file that contains details of the suspects arrested in connection with Offa Banks robbery that claimed no fewer than 33 lives, including 9 serving police officers, one can undoubtedly say, the waiting game is over and justice will soon prevail over the matter.
The Kwara State Director of the Public Prosecution (DPP), Barr. Adebimpe Abdulmumini Jimoh told this medium in an exclusive chat yesterday that the suspects’ case file has arrived the state from Abuja where the suspects were initially transferred to, on the order of Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
“The case file was sent today (Wednesday), at 12:45pm, we have to study it…”
When asked further on next move, the DPP said, “By God’s grace, we should be looking at next week for the proper arraignment of the suspects, we will file all necessary documents at the High Court.
Recall that for quite a while, the issue has been generating controversies, especially between the Nigeria Police Force and the Kwara state government.
The case file which is equally referred to as case diary, arrived the state Ministry of Justice 6 months after the bloodletting incident occurred and about a week after, the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Barr. Kamaldeen Ajibade, SAN held a press conference to debunk a statement credited to the Nigeria Police Public Relations officer, Jimoh Moshood, accusing the state government of delaying arraignment and trial of the suspects.
He further described the allegation as cheap blackmail.
Ajibade said that the state government had on several times demanded from police authority the release of the original case diary and the suspects for special prosecution.
“I want to confirm to you that a letter was written from the office of the DPP of the Federation in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. My office received the letter on August 27 this year. And 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, this year, we wrote a letter through the office of the state DPP to the office of the Attorney General requesting from them to provide us the original case diary of the Offa robbery and also transfer the suspects to the Kwara State Police Command. We waited for about three weeks and did not hear anything from them.
“I then took it upon myself to personally meet with the AIG Legal, one David Ogbodo, and I requested that the original case diary be sent to Kwara State to enable us start prosecution of the matter. I also requested that he should send all the suspects to Kwara, he told me he had directed the man in charge, that is one Abba Kyari to effect the release.
“We waited for another week; but we did 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 also with Abba Kyari. They promised every day that they would send the suspects to Kwara and as well as the original case diary.
“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 robbery. We don’t have all these with us. We don’t have the suspects or the witnesses on ground. How do you file a charge? How do you prosecute people you cannot see?
“So, I see this as a cheap blackmail from the police and in this instance, 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 now passing the bucks. They can now see that Nigerians have started asking questions that if you arrested suspects since April this year and they are yet to be charged to court; then there must be something about it.
“I urge Nigerians to ask questions about this matter. I am surprised, particularly on the statement coming from the Police.
In less than 24 hours after Ajibade addressed the press conference, five suspects out of the 13 that were paraded at the force headquarters in Abuja were brought to a magistrate court sitting in Ilorin, the state capital for arraignment.
Their arraignment is coming six months after the robbery incident. Many people have been asking questions about when the other suspects arrested in connection with the robbery will be brought to court?
Those arraigned before magistrate Bio Saliu were Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salaudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran.
The suspects were charged for the offences of criminal conspiracy and armed robbery, contrary to section 6 (b) of the Armed robbery and firearms (Special Provision) Act Cap R11 LFN 2004 and culpable homicide punishable with death contrary to section 221 of Penal Code.
The police First Information Report revealed that on 5th April, 2018, a group of dare-devil armed bandits invaded the Offa community.
It further noted that the bandits killed 9 serving police officers, looted the Offa Police Divisional Armoury and carted away 21 AK 47 rifles and several other ammunition.
The police report also stated that the robbers took to the street of the community shooting sporadically thereby killing 21 innocent Nigerians.
The suspects were also accused of raiding six (6) financial institutions; First Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Eco-Bank, Union Bank and a Micro Finance Bank before leaving the town.
The amount of money carted away from the financial institutions is yet to be revealed.
The FIR noted that efforts of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) led by DCP Abba Kyari and other arms of the Force resulted in the arrest of the suspects.
During the investigation, the FIR revealed that the suspects confessed to have participated in the robbery while some of the weapons used were recovered from them.
Two AK 47 rifles, one Lexus RX 300 Jeep with reg. No (Kwara) 143 RM, one Mercedes-Benz compressor with reg. No LT 496 KJA and 4 phones belonging to victims of the incident.
The FIR added that investigation is still going on to ensure the arrest of other suspects who are at large and to recover the stolen arms and ammunition, the looted money from the bank as well as unravelling the sponsors of the deadly attack.
The prosecutor team led by OC Legal however prayed the court for adjournment on the basis that the offences of the accused persons are capital in nature.
He submitted further that he would contact the DPP in order to file appropriate charges against the accused persons before the State High Court.
He said, “On this note, we shall be asking that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody pending when appropriate charges are filed against the accused persons at the High Court,” the prosecutor said.
The accused persons’ counsel, Barr. Abdulrasheed Lawal, who was holding brief for Barr. Wahab Bamidele, informed the court that he would file all necessary processes as regards the matter and would come officially at the next adjourned date for the bail of the accused.
The magistrate in his short ruling submitted that the court cannot try the matter but the High Court. In view of this, he said he would not be able to take the plea of the accused while the case was adjourned till 14th November, 2018 for mention.