A Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin on Monday granted the prayer of the defence counsel asking for an independent examination of the alleged gunshot injuries sustained by three accused persons alleged to have participated in the April 5, 2018 robbery incident in Offa.
Five accused persons are standing trial in the robbery case. They are Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salaudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran.
But the court refused a post-mortem examination on the corpse of the principal suspect in the robbery incident, Michael Adikwu, who the accused persons claimed, was deliberately killed by a police inspector while in custody at the force headquarters in Abuja.
The court, during a “trial within trial” on Monday, granted the prayer of the defence counsel, Mr Mathias Emeribe, asking for an independent examination of the alleged gunshot injuries sustained by the first, second and third accused persons detained in police custody during the investigation of the robbery incident.
Earlier, the 5th accused person (Niyi Ogundiran), had narrated to the court how the police extracted confessional statement from him under duress.
The first, second and third accused persons had at the last adjourned date accused the police of shooting them in the legs to instill fear in them before extracting statements from them.
They also alleged that the police shot Adikwu dead while in their custody contrary to the police narrative that the man died of an ailment in a hospital.
Inspector Hitila Hassan, the second prosecution witness, who was the investigating police officer in the case, told the court that Adikwu died of malaria and typhoid while in police custody in Abuja.
But following the allegations by the accused persons that the police forced them to explain their role in the robbery operation, the defence counsel applied “for an independent medical examination of the legs of the first, second and third accused persons to determine whether the wounds in their legs are products of gunshots.
“I also ask for an order to carry out autopsy on the corpse of Michael Adikwu, the principal suspect so as to find corroboration to evidence of especially the 5th accused person as well as all the other three accused persons.
“The essence of this is not unconnected with the fact that Adikwu was initially one of the accused persons charged along with others and it is important that one of their own was allegedly killed before them.
“The fact of the cause of his death must be determined in order to find out the truth as to how the confessional statements were obtained.
“The name of Michael Adikwu was repeated consistently by all the four accused persons in this trial within trial and I think it will be in the interest of justice for the accused persons to put in a proper defence to get the result of that medical examination.”
But the prosecution counsel, Prof. Wahab Egbewole (SAN), opposed the application, describing it as strange.
Egbewole said, “I urge the court to refuse this strange application, justice is not a one-way traffic. It is available to all the parties and not only for the accused persons.
“For the record, this is a trial within trial specifically to determine the voluntariness of the statements of the accused persons. It is not for the court to look for evidence to corroborate his allegation. It is for him to do that.
“This application is tantamount to inviting your lordship to come to the arena. The application is clearly shopping for evidence. The shooting of Adikwu has no relevance to the issues of a trial within trial.”
In her ruling, Justice Salman said, “The court will avail all the parties all the facilities available in this case. It is therefore in the interest of justice and fair hearing to allow for a medical examination to know whether the healed wounds in the three suspects’ legs emanated from gunshots. I therefore grant the first prayer.
Justice Salman adjourned the case to April 8.
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