Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
Justice Halimat Salman of Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin yesterday refused a post-mortem analysis on the body of the dead principal suspect, Michael Adikwu, in the April 5, 2018, Offa bank robbery.
But the court granted the prayer of the defence asking for an independent examination of the alleged gunshot injuries sustained by the first, second and third accused persons in the case.
Earlier, the fifth accused person, Niyi Ogundiran, narrated in 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 on the legs to instill fear in them before extracting statements from them.
They also alleged that the police shot dead Adikwu, while in their custody, contrary to the police report saying that the suspect died of an ailment in a hospital.
As a result, the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe, said: “In view of the fact that the four accused persons have given their stories, I hereby apply for an independent medical examination of the legs of the first, second and third accused persons to determine whether the wounds on their legs are products of gunshots.
“I also ask for an order to carry out an autopsy on Adikwu, so as to find corroboration to evidence of the fifth accused person particularly, as well as 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 cause of his death must be determined in order to find out the truth on how the confessional statements were obtained.
“The name 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.”
However, the prosecution counsel, Prof. Wahab Egbewole, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) vehemently opposed the application, describing it as strange.
Egbewole said: “I urge the court to refuse this strange application because justice is not a one-way traffic. It is available to all the parties and not only to the accused.
“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.”
Having listened to both parties, 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 on the three suspects’ legs emanated from gunshots. I, therefore, grant the first prayer.
“On the post-mortem examination of Adikwu’s corpse, there is nothing the autopsy will add to this case. It is baseless and pointless to grant the second prayer.”
She ordered the court registrar to prepare the “enroll order today to be served on both the defence and prosecution.”
Salman adjourned the case to April 8 for continuation of defence in trial within trial.