OFFA ROBBERY: SARS OFFICERS TORTURED US TO IMPLICATE SARAKI – PETITIONERS

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Suspects involved in the bloody incident that led to the death of more than 20 persons, including police officers and civilians, are currently being prosecuted.

Two petitioners at the Kwara state Judicial Panel of Enquiry investigating police brutality have accused operatives of the disbanded Special Anti- robbery Squad (SARS) of torturing them to implicate former Senate President Bukola Saraki in the April 5, 2018, Offa robbery incident.

Suspects involved in the bloody incident that led to the death of more than 20 persons, including police officers and civilians, are currently being prosecuted by the police at a High Court in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

The suspects, Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salahudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran are being held in the prison custody.

During the investigation, the police summoned Mr Saraki, who was a senate president then, after he was linked to some of the robbery suspects. Mr Saraki had on several occasions denied any involvement.

However, appearing before the retired Justice Tunde Garba-led panel on Wednesday, the petitioners, Kehinde Gobir and Shuaib Jawando, alleged that SARS personnel forced them to lie against Mr Saraki by saying he bought guns for them.

Reports indicated how Mr Jawondo, who spent over 70 days in police detention, at the commencement of the panel sitting alleged that his life and that of his counsel were threatened when he first complained about the injustice.

“They said if I talk, they will kill. That was why I was quiet. I’m an old man, I am ready to die. Why I am doing this is because my lawyer who is helping me to write cannot come here and say anything because some SARS officers have been threatening him,” he said in November.

At the Wednesday sitting, Mr Jawondo said that the police accused him of collecting guns from Mr Saraki, to allegedly participate in the robbery operation.

In their separate testimonies, Messrs Gobir and Jawondo said that SARS granted them ‘administrative bail’ with a stern warning to desist from associating with Mr Saraki, The Tribune newspaper reported.

The petitioners denied being used by Mr Saraki for criminal activities, adding that they were tortured and subjected to inhuman conditions in both Ilorin and Abuja police detentions.

The petitioners also accused officers of the disbanded SARS of confiscating their property, which include two Toyota Corolla, handsets and N250,000 collected before they were granted bail.

They also urged the panel to help them redeem their image in the eyes of the public saying they has been exposed to unwarranted stigmatization and disgrace which they said had affected their livelihood and economic fortune.

“In view of the foregoing and in the interest of justice, we urge your esteemed office to intervene swiftly to this situation by returning our property as this action is tantamount to infringement on the fundamental human rights to be enjoyed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

“We did not participate in any crime nor involve in any Offa robbery killing or having any criminal records whatsoever as being wrongfully alleged by the SARS officers. We urge the panel to do the needful by facilitating the quick recovery of our property.”

Reacting to their claims, the police counsel, Adekunle Iwalaye, urged the panel to dismiss the petitions in their entirety on the grounds that they lack merit.

The chairman of the panel later adjourned the matter to January 13, 2021.

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