The Ondo State Government on Friday began the trial of four suspected killers of Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere leader, Reuben Fasoranti.
The suspects are Lawal Mazaje from Kogi Sate; Adamu Adamu from Adamawa State; Mohammed Usman from Sokoto State, and Auwal Abubakar from Zamfara State.
The suspects were arraigned at the Chief Magistrate Court in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
They were remanded on the orders of the chief magistrate, who said they would be admitted in custody after undergoing COVID-19 test.
The judge, Victoria Bob-Manuel, said their COVID-19 status would need to be ascertained before being admitted into the correctional centre in Owo.
The suspects were part of an eight-man bandit which ambushed the vehicle of Mrs Olakunrin sometime in July last year along Ore-Kajola expressway and opened fire on her killing her in the process, the police said.
The police had announced their arrest last week, indicating that four others were still at large.
The arrest also came after pressure from Afenifere and its leaders, who had continually accused the police of lack of seriousness in the pursuit of the investigations.
While announcing their arrest, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said one of the suspects, Auwal Abubakar, was arrested on March 4 along the Sagamu-Ore Expressway in Ondo State, in a follow-up action on a case of a high-profile armed robbery and kidnap for ransom that occurred in Ogun State.
The arrest of Auwal, said to be an accessory after the fact of the crime, led to the arrest of two other members of the gang, Mohammed Usman and Lawal Mazaje in Benin City, the Edo State capital, and another arrest of Adamu Adamu in Akure.
Mr Mba said the police had established sufficient physical and forensic evidence linking the suspects to the killing.
He said the police also conducted an ‘identification parade’ at the Federal SARS Headquarters in Lagos on April 8, which led to “the positive and physical identification of three of the suspects by a survivor of the earlier crime. ”
Meanwhile, Mrs Bob-Manuel did not take the pleas of the suspects, but ordered that they be remanded at the Nigeria Correctional Centre in Owo, pending the receipt of legal advice from the Director of Public Prosecution.
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