Drama As Witness In Offa Robbery Case Arrested In Court Premises

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A witness for one of the five accused persons in the April 5, 2018, armed robbery attack in Offa, Kwara state, Omolara Ogundiran, was today Friday arrested within the court premises by the men of the Nigeria police.

Omolara, a graduate of Ire Poly, Osun state, is the younger sister of the fifth defendant, Niyi Ogundiran.

She was taken away around past 3:40 pm by operatives of the state police command immediately after the trial that started at 9:00 am.

Omolara Ogundiran, who resides in Odoota area of the Ilorin metropolis, is a sister to one of the accused persons, Niyi Ogundiran, who is standing trial in the armed robbery case.

It is recalled that policeman, Michael Adikwu (deceased), Ayoade Akinnibosun, Azeez Salahudeen, Niyi Ogundiran, Ibikunle Ogunleye and Adeola Abraham were arrested in connection with the bloody armed robbery incident.

At the resumed hearing on Friday, Omolara Ogundiran, who was called in to witness in the case by the defence counsel, Mr. Mathias Emeribe, tendered a receipt which she said was issued by a spare parts seller in Osogbo, Osun state to his brother.

It is recalled that Niyi Ogundiran had told the court while testifying that he was never in Offa town on the day of the robbery incident but travelled to Osogbo to purchase spare parts for second defendant’s vehicle.

After arguments by both the defence and prosecution counsels on admissibility of a 10-paragraph affidavit brought by the defence counsel on the receipt, the presiding judge, Justice Halimat Salman, however rejected the admissibility of the receipt as evidence, describing it as a sham.

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She said the defendant cannot seek to tender any evidence through the backdoor while they had all the opportunity to do so at various stages of the trial since it started about six years ago but didn’t.

“For you to now remember after about six years to present receipt speaks volume. It seems like one looking back while facing front. Court doesn’t operate by application but by law. The receipt is not enough. It’s a sham. I won’t say more than that. The signature in the affidavit is also different from the one on the receipt. It lacked merit”, the court ruled.

She later adjourned the case till Tuesday April 9, 2024 for adoption of written addresses by the counsels.

Earlier while giving evidence, Omolara (PW11) had told the court that she “went to Osogbo to collect a receipt for some motor spare parts of the vehicle bought by Niyi on the day of the robbery.

“When I got to Mallam Ali shop (motor spare parts seller), I met him attending to a customer and he said I should sit down and prayed for one not to be unfortunate in any situation.

“So he opened the receipt and saw the duplicate before he issued another one to me and I left”.

She said “I saw Mallam Ali inside the court premises today and he greeted me. But I can’t see him inside the court now”.

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However, during cross examination, Omolara told the court that “I am a religious Christian and attended primary school in Ise Ekiti. I also went to secondary school in Oro but don’t remember the name before I proceeded to Ire Poly for my OND.

“I can’t remember the day, month, but it was last year 2023 that I went to Osogbo for the receipt. Mallam Ali wrote the receipt in my presence before he gave it to me and wrote the date that my brother came to buy the items (backdated it to April 5, 2018).

“I didn’t go to Osogbo with Niyi Ogundiran, the fifth defendant. I didn’t sign the customer’s section in the receipt but Mallam Ali did and I cannot remember who signed it.

“When I came back to Ilorin, the receipt was with me and I only gave it to my lawyer when they were talking about it. I was in court when my brother was giving evidence on the case. Niyi and I are siblings but it’s God that will fight for him not me”, she submitted.

Speaking on the development, the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe told journalists that he would have to find out the situation regarding the development.

“Why they are arresting her, I don’t know. But she is one of our witnesses who had come to tender documents and I have been told that they wanted her at the state CID in respect of the matter. Until I get there before I know what the situation is.

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“They intended taking her away earlier but I resisted it because she is a witness and I wouldn’t want a situation where after she had gone, the testimony she would give would be different from what she is supposed to give.

“So I sought the protection of the court which was graciously granted by the trial judge that she can only be taken away after the court has ruled in respect of the matter”, Emeribe noted.

However, speaking on the arrest, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacob (SAN) said “There are bold consequences for trying to deceive the court.

“You heard from the proceedings today where the witness went to Osogbo to collect a fresh receipt that bothers on the issue that his brother was there to buy spare parts on the day of the robbery. She was issued a receipt dated April 5, 2018 which she brought to the court.

“But you heard her telling the court that the receipt was issued last year backdated to the date of the crime”, Jacob added.

He said “Both parties have closed their cases and will now proceed to address the court for the court and adoption of our written addresses for the court to adjourn for judgment”.

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