We were arraigned for refusing to offer police bribe, accused tell court

Men were arrested for stealing mobile phones

Two men, who were charged with armed robbery, on Monday told an Ikeja High Court that they were framed by the police for refusing to offer bribe after their arrest more than five years ago.

The men, Kingsley Ogwunze and Benjamin Nwafor, made the allegation while testifying before Justice Lateefat Okunnu.

Led in evidence by their counsel, Titi Akingbote, the defendants told the court that they were arrested separately at Charity Bus Stop on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway on December 7, 2008. They said they never met until February 4, 2009 when they were “paired” by the police for arraignment, first at an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court.

According to them, they were remanded in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, Lagos, after their arraignment on a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy and armed robbery.

Mr. Ogwunze, who claimed to be an undertaker, said he was arrested by plain-clothes policemen while he was going to collect money from a customer. He said despite showing the policemen his identity card and driver’s licence, they still bundled him into a commercial bus with some other persons.

The first defendant said, “When we were inside the bus, they told me to cooperate and that I should give them money. But I refused because I had done nothing wrong. As we were going, the bus stopped and some persons came and gave the policemen money to release their relatives and friends, who were also in the bus.”

According to him, they were later taken to Makinde Police Station, Mafoloku, where they were detained for several weeks.

Mr. Ogwunze said the police seized his wallet and mobile phone which prevented him from reaching his family members in Abia.

“From there, I was taken to Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, where I was tortured physically for several weeks to make a confessional statement. Later, one Insp. Cyprian came to meet me that if I could raise money that they will let me go, but I told him I had no money.”

Mr. Ogwunze said he was eventually charged to court for allegedly conspiring with the second defendant and others at large to rob people of their mobile phones.

Under cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, Femi Adamson, the first defendant insisted on his innocence.

He said, “I have never met the second defendant and I do not know him. My Lord, the job I do is far better than snatching of mobile phones. I want the court to strike out this case because I do not know anything about it and my future is at stake.”

Also testifying, Mr. Nwafor, who claimed to be a trader, corroborated the first defendant’s claim. He said he had never met Mr. Ogwunze and was surprised when they were charged to court together.

The case has been adjourned to March 3 for adoption of final addresses.

(NAN)


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