The trial within trial in the case of alleged rape and murder of the 300 level student of the University of Ilorin, Olajide Omowumi Blessing, commenced on Tuesday in an Ilorin High Court amid claims and counter-claims by the defence counsels and prosecuting operative of the Department of State Security, DSS.
The trial judge, Justice lbrahim Yusuf, had on Monday adjourned till Tuesday for the commencement of trial within trial in the case.
Barrister Shina Ibiyemi, defence counsel for the first defendant, Abdulazeez Ismail, accused the DSS of using an electronic device and horsewhip on the defendant to extract confessional statements from him under duress.
Reacting, the DSS operative, Femi Babalola, swiftly denied the allegation as false, explaining that the defendants volunteered their confessional statements without any intimidation.
He said, ” At no point in time, did any operative of the department manhandled any of the suspects in order to extract confessional statements from them,” adding that ” torture and harassment are against the law.”
Babalola, said that, ” It was Abdulazeez who volunteered the statement verbally and was asked to write it under cautionary law which he obliged without torture whatsoever.
” He said Abdulazeez claimed that he is not fluent in English, hence he asked the operative to rather write the statement for him, which was afterwards read to him word for word, and was affirmed by him that it is exactly what he said, then signed and dated the document,” Babalola added.
On his part, Barrister Jimoh Lawal, counsel for the 4th and 5th defendants, Abdulkareem Shuaib and Abdulkareem Rasheed, respectively, also accused the DSS of using a taser, an electronic device on the 5th defendant, Rasheed in a bid to extract a statement from him, which Babalola also denied.
The defence counsel, further alleged that the mother of the two brothers was prevented from seeing her children which the DSS operative again dismissed, maintaining that the mother did not come to the DSS office.
Another defence counsel, Barrister Saka Ishola, like other defence counsels, also alleged that his client, Ajala Timileyin’s face was swollen in the video evidence tagged exhibit 61b, which the DSS officer affirmed.
Barrister Lukman Bello said the 6th defendant, Abdullateef Abdulrahman requested access to a lawyer but was allegedly rebuffed, therefore denying him the right to an attorney at that moment.
The DSS operative, Babalola, again denied the allegation, claiming that the DSS operatives asked if he had a legal representative but answered ‘no’.
Barrister Bello, further alleged that the statement credited to the 8th defendant, Akande Oladoja, was not written by him.
Babalola, rejected the claim, asserting that he volunteered to write it by himself since he could write properly.
Defence counsel to Daud Bashir, the 7th defendant, Barrister Imam Ayegbami, claimed that his client stated that he was not aware that the Samsung phone was a stolen item until he got to the DSS office, a fact that was missing in the statement presented by the prosecution.
The trial judge adjourned the case till September 23rd and 24th, 2021 for further hearing.
Late Blessing was allegedly raped and murdered at the off-campus residence of her elder sister in the Tanke area of Ilorin.
Eight suspects are facing trial in the case being handled by the DSS.
Gunmen abduct 30 travellers in three vehicles from Niger
About 30 travellers were on Wednesday abducted by gun in three different vehicles in Niger State.
But the Niger police command said only 13 travellers were abducted at Konar Barau village in the Rafi Local Government Area of the state.
Niger Commissioner of Police, Monday Kuryas, confirmed the incident in an interview with NAN in Minna, the state capital.
According to him, the Divisional Police Officer of Zungeru reported that one Mubarak Idris of Kwanawa village, Sokoto state, reported the matter to the police “at about 1530 hours”.
Idris, identified as the driver of a bus with registration number LGT 12 XWX, was said to have been conveying 18 passengers from Yauri in Kebbi state, when the incident occurred.
The travellers, mostly fishermen, were said to be on their way to Yenagoa in Bayelsa state, when they were attacked.
The police said Idris reported that on getting to a sharp bend at Konar Barau along the Tegina-Minna road, some “suspected bandits in military uniform” attacked the vehicle and took away 13 passengers and his “motor boy”.
The driver also said the gunmen dispossessed him of N131,500.
Speaking on the development, the police commissioner said a manhunt for the victims had commenced.
He also urged residents to come forward should they have useful information that could lead to the arrest of the gunmen.
He said, “We appeal to residents to volunteer reliable information that could aid in apprehending miscreants in the state. We are doing everything humanly possible to ensure the protection of lives and property in our area of supervision.
“All we require from residents is vital intelligence information that could aid the security personnel deployed across the state on movement of dubious characters in their midst for necessary security action.”
The development is coming months after over 100 pupils were abducted from Salihu Tanko Islamiyya school, located in the same LGA where the travellers were kidnapped.
The children regained their freedom after spending 16 weeks with their abductors, but six of the pupils died in captivity.
Updated: #EndSARS memorial protests rock Lagos, Abuja, two arrested at Lekki tollgate
Youth group leaders, entertainers and activists on Wednesday staged protests in major cities of the countries including Lagos, Abuja and Enugu in memory of victims of last year’s #EndSARS protests against police brutality.
The police arrested at least two protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos during the EndSARS memorial protest.
The police had repeatedly warned against the EndSARS memorial protest and deployed armed security operatives to the tollgate. But the organisers of the protest said there was no going back and some persons on Wednesday morning converged around the tollgate where protesters were forcefully dispersed exactly one year ago.
The arrests on Wednesday, it was learnt, were made by the armed police who had stormed the area to enforce no protest order earlier issued by the security authorities.
One of those arrested claimed to be a journalist and the other was seen carrying a placard.
Protesters in Lagos used their vehicles to protest, shouting that they want a better Nigeria.
In Abuja and Enugu, protesters reportedly stormed major streets, carrying different placards and shouting #Endsars and police brutality in Nigeria. Some of the inscriptions on their placards are “We will never forget 20-10-20”, “Endsars” and “End Police Brutality”.
In Abuja, Omoyele Sowore, former presidential candidate of the Africa Action Congress, and founder of an online news agency Sahara Reporters, was seen campaigning against police brutality.
In Lagos, Charley Boy, popular singer and song writer, Folarin Falana aka Falz, rapper, songwriter and actor joined protesters in Lekki remembering those that allegedly died last year during EndSARS protests.
Falz wrote via Twitter, “365 days ago, Nigerian citizens were shot and killed at the toll gate by our own military men.
“Today, we honour them because they have sacrificed their very existence for a cause bigger than all of us. They live forever in our hearts.”
Debo Adebayo, a comedian popularly known as Mr Macaroni was also one of those that led the EndSARS vehicular procession at Lekki tollgate.
The organisers had announced the procession on their Instagram handles on Tuesday.
“In memory of those who died that day and those we have lost to police brutality, we will: drive through the toll gate from 8-10 am; blast our horns in unison as we drive through and wave our flags,” the information on the e-flier read in part.
Around 9am, the entertainers joined by some youths rode in a convoy, waving flags at journalists and security operatives at the tollgate.
They said the procession was in memory of the EndSARS protest which ended controversially on October 20, 2020.
Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, had said his men would only allow any procession of vehicles around Lekki, or any form of protest and had deployed officers in the area.
The arrested journalist told newsmen that he works with LegitTV and that his phone, driver’s licence and other documents were taken away from him.
He spoke from a Lagos State Task Force van where he was kept by the police, identifying himself as Abisola.
A report by the Punch said about 30 police trucks and armed personnel were stationed at the tollgate.
It also reported a car procession in honour of those believed to have lost their lives at the tollgate when soldiers dispersed the EndSARS protesters on October 20, 2020.
The Lekki tollgate was where many youths gathered day and night to air their grievances against police brutality and bad governance.
The protest was later said to have been hijacked by hoodlums, leading to destruction of private and public properties in other parts of Lagos.
Missing journalist: Group threatens showdown, gives seven-day ultimatum
The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, an umbrella body of all the youth groups in the South-East zone has threaten to stage massive protest should the police fail to find missing Tordue Salem, a journalist with Vanguard newspaper within seven days. Salem covers the House of Representatives for Vanguard newspaper.
It gave the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, and other security agencies in the country a seven-day ultimatum to find the journalist.
The ultimatum is contained in a statement released on Tuesday by Goodluck Egwu Ibem, President General of the Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders.
The group said it received with “rude shock the news of the sudden disappearance of Tordue Salem since October 13, in Abuja.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan; the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, to activate all necessary machinery to ensure that everything is done to ensure the safe return of Tordue Salem.
Ibem said, “If we don’t see Tordue Salem after seven working days, we will stage a one-million-man protest until he returns safely to his family. The time has started counting,” Ibem posited.
“This kind of story is totally unacceptable to us and we demand that the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, and other security agencies “must” find Tordue Salem and hand him over to his family within the next seven working days.”
He also said, “These seven days ultimatum given by us to the IGP and other security agencies to find Salam is not negotiable.
“The IGP must prove his mettle by bringing back Salem to his family. No form of excuse will be entertained. The IGP and other security agencies must find Salem immediately.”
The coalition insisted that any form of attack on any journalist is an attack on the entire society.
“They are the backbone of our democracy and any attack on them is an attack against all Nigerians and non-Nigerians,” he said.
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