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Day armed robbers met waterloo at Aponmu

By Babatunde Ayedoju

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Monday, February 5, 2024 was a day that 33-year-old Akin Ojo from Aponmu and Chika Emmanuel from Owena had been looking forward to, alas! Their hopes were dashed as the court in its common practice refused the armed robbery suspects bail.

The two of them were standing trial at the Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure on a two-count charge of conspiracy to commit felony to wit armed-robbery and armed robbery.

According to count one, the two young men on July 14, 2019, at about 3:00 am, conspired to rob Town Rock Quarry Company along Aponmu in Akure, while count two stated that the duo robbed Town Rock Quarry Company by invading the premises, loading iron rods into a golf car and shooting guns into the air to scare the security guards away.

Having listened to the charges brought against them in their language of choice, Yoruba, the two accused person, Akin and Chika pleaded not guilty. Then, the prosecution counsel, led by O. E. Akintan and Grace Oguntoyinbo from the Ondo State Ministry of Justice, called their witness, Inspector Lambert Onuegbu, who was a sergeant at the time the offence was said to have been committed.

In his testimony, Inspector Onuegbu, who served with the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) before he was transferred to the Anti-Kidnapping Squad of the Police Mobile Force, said that the case was transferred to his unit from the police station in Aponmu. He testified under oath before the court that on July 14, 2019, at about midnight, the first defendant, Akin Ojo, and some others went and robbed Town Rock Quarry Company, armed with locally made barrel guns in a golf car painted in taxi colours.

He added that when the security man at the company sighted the robbers, he flashed his torch on them and there was an exchange of gun fire which led to the death of the taxi driver named Dare, alias I never Chop. The police inspector said that Akin sustained a gunshot injury, fell down and was taken to the police station, while the driver’s corpse was deposited at the mortuary.

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Inspector Onuegbu went ahead to say that, contrary to Akin Ojo’s claim that he does not understand English, he actually made his statement in English at the police station, alongside the nominal complainant, one of the security guards at the company. He also said that the police visited the crime scene and recovered some empty shell cartridges, stolen iron rods, a taxi, gun and a SICO mobile phone without SIM card, which were all taken to the police station. He added that the pictures of the deceased taxi driver and the taxi itself were also taken.

According to the prosecution witness, Akin confessed that he had been going to the quarry company on several occasions. He said that according to police investigation, Akin used to pay the second defendant, Chika Emmanuel, to take him to the crime scene.

He said, “That day, the first defendant gave the second defendant N10, 000 and both of them went to that company that night with one Raji Ahmed, but during the gun duel, the second defendant and Raji ran away.

“The second defendant also confessed that he collected money from the first defendant about five times.”

The inspector who gave the names of the security guards on duty as Peter Onos and Yakubu Mohammed, said that the second defendant’s house was searched but nothing incriminating was recovered there.

The statements of the security guards, alongside that of the first defendant, and some pictures were tendered before the court and admitted. However, Inspector Onuegbu said that while the taxi and gun were kept as exhibits at the police station, they were all burnt during the ENDSARS protest in 2020.

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While answering questions from the defence counsel, Hannibal Uwaifo, Inspector Onuegbu said that the photograph of the gun recovered from the crime scene was not taken, because “we don’t snap guns.”

He affirmed that both defendants made oral statement in English which he wrote for them because they said that they could not write, adding that he did not know them before their case was transferred to him from Aponmu police station.

Inspector Onuegbu also said that the taxi was given to Dare for daily delivery, adding that in the course of the investigation the owner of the vehicle whose name he had forgotten came to ask for it but was told that the vehicle would not be released till the conclusion of investigation.

Standing in the witness box, the first defendant, Akin Ojo, who spoke in Yoruba through an interpreter identified himself as a vulcaniser who dropped out of school in Primary 3 when his parents died, insisting that he does not understand English. He also said that he was arrested by vigilantes wearing local charms and taken to the police station.

While insisting he did not write any statement, Akin said that he suddenly woke up at the hospital and was told that he made a statement.

Narrating what happened, Akin said, “When I got to my shop, a bike man came to tell me that a vehicle was faulty on the road, that I should come and fix the tyre. He drove me there, I loosed the tyre of the Mazda vehicle and brought it to my shop to fix it.

“Two motorcyclists came, armed with a gun, and ordered me to sit on their motorcycle. I sat on the bike but the driver whose car I went to fix refused to follow them. The bullet hit the driver. I jumped down from the motorcycle and a bullet hit my leg.

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“When we got to Aponmu police station, we met a car said to have been stolen from a quarry company.”

Responding to questions from the prosecution counsel, Akin said that he loosed the tyre of the vehicle and wanted to take it to his shop when he was arrested. He denied knowing the name of the driver or recognising his face before he saw the driver for the first time that day. He also said that he was the only one arrested and taken to the police stations in both Aponmu and Akure.

Akin also said that executives of the vulcanisers association in both Aponmu and Akure came to the police station but the IPO demanded for N300, 000 from them to change the statement, but they ran away.

The second defendant, Chika Emmanuel, who also gave his testimony in Yoruba through an interpreter identified himself as a farmer living in Owena. He said that he did not make any statement, that the police authored it.

Insisting that he was arrested on his way to the farm, he said, “I was the only one going to farm. I told them my father knew I was going to the farm. I was arrested along Owena road. The police said they had arrested some people along that road.

“The police said that if others say they don’t know me, they will let me go. Those suspects said they didn’t know me. The police said I should call my father to come and bail me.”

Chika who denied knowing the first defendant or seeing him at the police station added that his father could not afford the N200, 000 the police demanded to secure his bail.

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