By Sunmola Olowookere
& Ayodele Popoola
Trial continued in the case of murder of Late Mrs Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, as the defence opened its case and called the first defendant, Mohammed Sheu Usman, to the witness stand.
While being led in evidence by the defense counsel, H.A. Gbadamosi, the defendant claimed he was not aware of the charges brought against him, saying he never stole in his entire life.
He said that he was coming from Asaba in a vehicle along with three other people and that he had N16,000 on him which he was sent to deliver to someone.
He testified, “ I was arrested at Agbor due to an expired drivers license and taken to a police station in a village, but I didn’t know the area.
TheN500,000 the police saw with me was a message I was sent to deliver to one Alhaji Seidu. But I was debarred from calling the person that sent me because they seized my phone.
“We were later taken to SARs office in Benin and my statement was taken at the first police station before we were taken to Benin. And I was locked up for two weeks why my statement was also obtained. I was also taken to Lagos where I also voluntèered my statement.
He claimed that he was tortured and burnt with cigarette butts and during the identification parade, it was the Investigative Police Officer that pointed three of them out to the witness that identified them.
According to him, the IPO asked him for three million naira, but his mother was only able to raise N1.5 million and thereafter, he was moved to Akure where he also made a statement.
During cross-examination by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Sir Charles Titiloye, the defendant reiterated that he was arrested in Asaba, Delta State while he claimed to have been taken to Benin in Edo State.
He admitted that he usually transported people and money, adding that he was asked to deliver the money to one Alhaji Seidu.
He said that although Alhaji Seidu came to request for the money while he was at a police station in Lagos, he did not write any statement regarding the issue of the money.
But Titiloye put it to him, that all his claims were after thoughts as he did not tell his lawyer those stories so she would have cross-examined the prosecution witnesses on it.
The Counsel to the first defendant thereafter closed her case.
The second defendant, Masaje Lawal, said that he is a cattle rearer and was innocent of the charges brought against him.
He gave a similar testimony to that of the first defendant, saying he was a passenger in the first defendant’s vehicle.
He said that the police that arrested them took N55,500 from his pocket.
Like the first defendant, he denied the statement of the police witnesses that cartridges were inside the vehicle.
During cross-examination, the DPP, Leo Ologun said that since the second defendant was not the only passenger in the vehicle with the first defendant, why should be the only one to be arrested along with him?
The trial judge, Justice Williams Olamide, adjourned the case till today.