A Federal High Court in Lagos has further adjourned till September 17, 2015 a suit seeking an order compelling the police to bring to court the four suspects paraded in connection with the recent bank robbery in Ikorodu, Lagos.
The case which had been slated for hearing on Monday could not go on as the suspects’ lawyer, Olusegun Akanbi, told the court that he had not been able to effect service on some of the respondents.
The four suspects who sued the police are Agbojule Bright, Promise Abiwa, Monday Omoboye and Monday Ikuesan.
They had, on July 6, 2015, been paraded by the police in connection with the robbery of the Ipakodo branches of First Bank and Zenith Bank in Ikorodu, where an 18-man gang, which they allegedly belonged to, carted away about N80m on June 24, 2015.
The four suspects had reportedly confessed to playing different roles in the robbery while three Sport Utility Vehicles allegedly bought from the proceeds of the robbery were recovered from them.
But in their suit filed before Justice Mohammed Yunusa, their lawyer, Akanbi, claimed that the police violated the right of the suspects to remain silent or to avoid answering any questions until after consultation with a legal practitioner or any person of their choice as stipulated by Section 35(2) of the 1999 Constitution.
Akanbi claimed that the suspects “made confessional statements to the members of the press out of duress,” contending that the police had no right to parade the suspects to be interviewed by the press “unless such a suspect wishes to give interview after the matter has been charged to a court of competent jurisdiction.”
According to the lawyer, the suspects might not be able to get fair trial in court since they have “already suffered prejudice in the eyes of the public due to unfair publicity and unprofessional acts of the defendants.”
He claimed that the police had neither allowed him nor the family members of the suspects to see them since their arrest.
Akanbi said, “The applicants’ counsel were not allowed to see the applicants even to have a brief interview when they visited the defendants on July 15, 2015.
“The applicants’ constitutional rights under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution are at stake because the defendants have already taken a bias position by denying the applicants’ family or their counsel their right of visiting them in police custody.
“It will be in the interest of justice if the applicants are brought before this honourable court so that the court can ascertain whether the applicants are still alive.
“It will be in the interest of justice if the applicants can be charged by the defendants to court since they have already spent over 24 hours in custody and failure to do this will amount to usurpation of the constitutional powers of the judiciary.”
He claimed that the suspects were entitled to damages for what he described as their unlawful detention, urging the court to award N5m against the defendants in their favour.