A suspect facing trial for his alleged involvement in the April 5 bank robbery in Offa, Kwara State, has accused the police of forcing him to indict Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The suspect, Friday Akininibosin, was speaking at at a High Court in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Friday.His testimony was reported by the Nigerian Tribune newspaper.
Mr Akininibosin who is facing trial with four others for the robbery also told the court that he had no personal knowledge of Mr Saraki before he was arrested.
According to Tribune newspaper, the suspect said that a former police officers allegedly involved in the robbery, Michael Adikwu, was killed for his inability to go with the alleged plan of the prosecutors.
Shortly after the April 5 robbery which resulted in the death of 17 people, including nine police officers, the Nigerian Police cited confessions made by the accused persons during investigation, as indicting Mr Saraki.
The police also said a picture of one of the accused at a wedding with Mr Saraki emerged, linking the Senate president with the armed robbers.
According to the police, the suspects alleged to have worked as political thugs for Mr Saraki who allegedly supplied them with armunitions. Mr Saraki has denied any wrongdoing and alleged victimisation.
In a dramatic twist, however, Mr Akininibosin retracted his earlier stance and accused the police of masterminding his confession which he claims was written for him by police officers.
“My hands and legs were tied to the back and suspended in between two tables by iron rod for like one hour 30 minutes. Then the senior police officer, Abba Kyari, came around to tell me that I should say that it was the Senate president that gave us guns to rob Offa banks,” the paper said, quoting the defendant
“I told him my life is at stake here and that I wouldn’t do such. Then, he said I should do that for them and that they’ll pay me and thereafter set me free. I disagreed and was carried back to the cell on his instruction as I couldn’t walk,” it added.
Abba Kyari is the police officer who led the team that arrested the suspects. Mr Kyari has also led his team to effect the arrest of other major crime suspects across Nigeria.
He and his team have however, been accused of rights abuses and corruption, charges he has denied.
The paper also quoted Mr Akininibosin as saying that the police intimidated them by killing five men in their presence and ordering them (the accused) to lie on the bodies of the dead people.
“I was shot on my two legs. I was later taken to Abba Kyari office, where he asked to know if I was ready to cooperate and I said yes and pleaded not to kill me. The next day was when Michael Adikwu was brought to identify us and say what connected us together. The dismissed officer said he didn’t know us and after much torture, he was shot dead in our presence.”
The police had confirmed Mr Adikwu’s death in its custody but said he died of natural causes.
According to the paper, the defendant said a journalist was later brought in who took his confessional statement, allegedly made under duress.
“I was panicked, thinking I was next to die. Later, a female TV journalist was brought by a police officer with a note, saying that was what they wanted me to say, and that if not, I will “travel”, meaning, I would be killed.
“That was how I agreed in the presence of the female journalist, who recorded while I was also beaten at interval.
”During cross examination however, the prosecution questioned the facts in the defendants claim, citing parts of the statements attributed to Mr Akininibosin which could only have been known by him.
According to the prosecution lawyer, the witness’ claim that the statement was written for him does not support the authenticity of personal information contained in his witness statement.