December 8, 2018

Offa Robbery: Stolen money, guns not accounted for

Offa Robbery: Stolen money, guns not accounted for

•Statement of dead mastermind also missing
•Ministry urges police to produce proceeds of crime

By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor

A major row is brewing in the police circles following the disappearance of the statement of the ring leader of the April 5, deadly robbery attacks in Offa, Kwara State during which the daredevils robbed six banks and carted away billions of Naira and killed 31 persons, including nine of policemen and made away with 21 rifles.

Offa robbery suspects

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It will be recalled that following the attack, the police high command in Abuja moved in immediately and swooped on the suspects before they could share their loot and disperse from Kwara State.

Saturday Vanguard learned that the mastermind of the robbery, Michael Adikwu, a dismissed police officer, had refused to share the huge cash to the other members of the gang   on the grounds that they would not rush into the city to begin to display opulence and attract the attention of security men and the public.

It was while they were still ruminating on how to share the loot that the gangsters were picked up and taken to Abuja.

However, while all the suspects- Michael Adikwu, Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Ibrahim, Salawudeen Azeez and   Niyi Ogundiran were arrested, neither the cash they stole from the six banks nor the 21 rifles  which were ‘recovered’ were made mention of by those who arrested them.

Strangely, the statement, which the mastermind of the crime, Adikwu, who reportedly died in police custody, has not, been found.

Adikwu’s statement, which he voluntarily made to the police shortly after being taken into custody, was said not to have been  included in the two case files which the Office of the Inspector General of Police submitted in two briefings to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation to enable it prepare a legal advice in respect of the prosecution of the suspects.

However, the gaps created by the police in investigating the suspects have led to a disagreement between the police and the Federal Ministry of Justice, which has already washed off its hands in prosecuting the suspects, saying that armed robbery matters fall within the purview of states where they take place and not the duty of the federal government.

The face-off between the police high command and the justice ministry appears to have deepened following the death in police custody of the mastermind of the robbery, thereby making it even more difficult to get further information from the suspects on the whereabouts of the proceeds of crime, which were said to have been in the deceased’s possession.

Even though the ministry has handed over the case file to the Kwara State Ministry of Justice to prosecute, the federal ministry of justice strongly believes the statement volunteered by the ringleader, Adikwu, to the police, the recovery of the cash stolen from the banks and the weapons used in the fatal attacks, would be vital to the case.

For that reason, the Justice ministry has strongly advised the police high command to take necessary steps to produce the proceeds of crime, in this case, all or part of the huge cash reportedly stolen by the robbers from the six commercial banks and the lethal weapons and ammunition they carted from the police and used in assaulting the Divisional Police station Offa after killing nine policemen there.

The Justice Ministry also insisted that the report by the police that some of the suspects claimed that the Senate President and the governor of Kwara State and his Chief of Staff sponsored them with guns and vehicles, the police report did not in any way indicate who bought what and to whom in its submission, thereby making it difficult to tie any of the weapons to any of the politicians named by suspects.

The report sighted by Saturday Vanguard noted: “That some of the suspects claimed to be political thugs of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and the Governor of Kwara State Alhaji Abdulfatai Ahmed.

“That in the course of investigation, a letter dated 4th of June, 2018 was written to the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki requesting him to respond to the allegations of sponsorship of the political thugs and provision of arms     against him by the suspects particularly, Ayoade Akinnibosun.

“That the Senate President replied in a letter dated 7th June, 2018 and referenced NASS/8TH/S/SP/IGP/15/6/18 wherein he denied all the contents of the letter in its entirety.

“That the following exhibits were recovered in the course of investigation though no indication was made as to which exhibit was recovered from whom in the interim investigation report:

Two AK 47 rifles, two Beretta pistols, one Pump Action rifle, one Revolver pistol, Lexus RX 300 Jeep with Reg. No. KWA 143 RM, Mercedes Benz – Compressor with Reg. No. LT 494 KJA, one Toyota Prado Jeep with Reg. No. 19 KWGH and one Toyota Camry Saloon Car with Reg. No. LRN 481 FE.

The loopholes  led to the clearance of Saraki, Governor Ahmed and his chief of Staff by the OHAGF.  The legal opinion stated clearly that a prima facie evidence still abounds to try and convict the remaining robbery suspects especially based on their confessional and extra-judicial statements to the police.

The report, now with the Attorney General of Kwara State, which Saturday Vanguard has sighted says: “From the foregoing therefore, it is safe to say that a prima facie case has been established against Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Ibrahim, Salawudeen Azeez. Niyi Ogundiran and Michael Adikwu. Consequently, the suspects should be charged with the offences of criminal conspiracy, armed robbery, and culpable homicide punishable with death.

“The ground for this opinion can be based even on their confession coupled with other corroborating evidences other than the confession. It is a long settled principle of law that, confession in law is an admission made at any time by any person charged with a crime stating that he committed that crime.

In the case of OLALEKAN V. STATE (2001) 18 NWLR, 793, it was held that where a confessional statement is direct, positive and unequivocal as to the admission of guilt by an accused, the statement is enough to ground conviction even if it was later retracted at the trial.

Further still,   the Supreme Court held in the case of KARIMU SUNDAY V THE STATE (2017) LPELR-42259(SC) that a defendant can be convicted on his confession alone once it is properly proved and admitted   Also, OGOALA     V.   STATE (1991) 2NWLR (Part 175), 509(a) 534.

It was however unclear last night what the police high command would do in response to the clearance of the top Kwara politicians by the justice ministry and the sudden death of Michael Adikwu, whose autopsy the force is yet to produce to establish the cause of death and how he died, thereby raising public concerns about the matter.

But the police insisted last week that Adikwu died of natural cause and that the report of his death would soon be made public.

The sudden death is causing ripples across the country following earlier denial by the police that the suspect had not died when some persons close to Adikwu raised the alarm that he had passed on in police cell shortly after being arrested.

A top police officer, a DIG, Deputy Inspector General, who was very upset with the clearance of the politicians from Kwara State, according to top officials of the police high command, is reported to have challenged the federal ministry and asked them to keep off the case and allow the police to appoint a Senior Advocate of Nigeria to prosecute the Offa robbery case and the politicians linked thereto.

But no response has yet been given to them by the ministry.