An Ilorin, Kwara State High Court yesterday took the pleas of April 5 bloody Offa robbery suspects.
The five suspects arraigned in court pleaded not guilty to the five count of armed robbery and illegal possession of firearms preferred against them.
The suspects were physically present in court and were represented by Mr. Mathias Emeribe.
They are Ayoade Akinibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Salawudeen Azeez, Adeola Abraham and Niyi Ogundiran.
The five charges against them include conspiracy to rob banks in Offa; possession of gun and explosives and robbery of the staff and premises of Zenith, Eco Bank, Union Bank, GT Bank et al; conspiracy to murder nine police officers and other innocent souls on the said date including women; commission of culpable homicide resulting in the death of nine police officers and others and illegal possession of firearms (two AK47) on the said day.
Taking their pleas one by one, they all swore not to know anything pertaining to the bloody robbery incident on April 5 this year, which claimed scores of lives including those of police officers.
All the suspects claimed not to be in Offa on the day of the robbery incidents. Two of the suspects, Adeola Abraham and Salawudeen Azeez, when asked of their involvement in the murder of nine police officers, retorted: 'Auzubillahi.'
Salawudeen Azeez added: "I have not touched a gun in my life time."
Earlier, the prosecution led by the Kwara State Attorney General Kamaldeen Ajibade (SAN) said the case was adjourned from November 21 till yesterday to amend the charge based on the "information as to the death of the first accused person, one Michael Adikwu.
"We have filed out application to that effect. We are ready to move our harmless application dated and filed 23rd of November, 2018 and brought pursuant to Section 207, 208 subsection one and two of criminal procedure.
"We pray for an order granting the complainants/applicants to amend the charge deleting the name of the first accused and an order for the application to be properly filed."
Presiding Judge, Justice Halimat Salman, granted the prayers of the prosecution for the deletion of the name of the first accused person, Michael Adikwu, reported by the police to have slumped and died in their custody.
Before the commencement of pleas, suspects' counsel Mr. Emeribe had asked the court to give him more time to interact with the suspects, adding that he was just seeing them for the first time in court.
Said he: "I was just served with the court processes this morning. I won't blame the prosecution as they may not know. I was briefed about the matter yesterday by the families of the suspects.
"I stand on the Provision of Section 36 which talks about adequate time. It is, however, within the power of the court to do justice, taking cognizance of the sensitivity of the matter.
"The only thing that can save them from the hangman's noose is the constitution. I don't know the kind of pleas they are going to make now that will not work against them."
But, Justice Salman said in order to save time, "I will take their pleas this morning."
The counsel to the accused also brought to the notice of the court that he was yet to be in possession of the CD and confessional statements of the suspects attached to the charge sheet.