Justice Halimat Salman of the Kwara State High Court has refused a post-mortem analysis on the body Michael Adikwu, one of the suspects of the Offa robbery attack who died in police custody.
The judge refused the request for a post-mortem on Monday during the criminal trial of the Offa robbery suspects, although she said the alleged gunshot injuries sustained by the first, second and third accused persons in the case should be examined.
Niyi Ogundiran, who is the fifth defendant, told the court how some policemen forcefully extracted a confessional statement from him under duress. Also, the three other defendants had, at the last adjourned date, accused the Police of shooting them on the legs to instil fear in them before extracting statements from them.
They also claimed that the statement released by the Police to the public, claiming one of them died of an ailment in the hospital is totally false. They said Adikwu was shot while trying to extract information in their custody.
Mathias Emeribe, the defense counsel, said: “In view of the fact that the four accused persons have given their stories, I hereby apply for an independent medical examination of the legs of the first, second and third accused persons to determine whether the wounds on their legs are products of gunshots.”
Emeribe also pleaded with the court to carry out an autopsy on the deceased to actually ascertain what led to his death. He said: “I also ask for an order to carry out an autopsy on Adikwu, so as to find corroboration to evidence of the fifth accused person particularly, as well as the other three accused persons. The essence of this is not unconnected with the fact that Adikwu was initially one of the accused persons charged along with others, and it is important that one of their own was allegedly killed before them. The cause of his death must be determined in order to find out the truth on how the confessional statements were obtained.
“The name Michael Adikwu was repeated consistently by all the four accused persons in this trial within trial, and I think it will be in the interest of justice for the accused persons to put in a proper defence to get the result of that medical examination.”
However, Professor Wahab Egbewole, the prosecution counsel and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), opposed the plea and tagged it a “strange application”. Egbewole said: “I urge the court to refuse this strange application because justice is not one-way traffic. It is available to all the parties and not only to the accused.
“For the record, this is a trial within trial, specifically to determine the voluntariness of the statements of the accused persons. It is not for the court to look for evidence to corroborate his allegation; it is for him to do that.
“This application is tantamount to inviting your lordship to come to the arena. The application is clearly shopping for evidence. The shooting of Adikwu has no relevance to the issues of a trial within trial.”
Having listened to both parties, Salman said: “The court will avail all the parties all the facilities available in this case. It is, therefore, in the interest of justice and fair hearing to allow for a medical examination to know whether the healed wounds on the three suspects’ legs emanated from gunshots. I, therefore, grant the first prayer.
“On the post-mortem examination of Adikwu’s corpse, there is nothing the autopsy will add to this case. It is baseless and pointless to grant the second prayer.” She ordered the court registrar to prepare the “enroll order today to be served on both the defence and prosecution”.
However, Justice Salman adjourned the case till April 8 for the continuation of a case.