The trial within trial in the case of alleged rape and murder of the 300 level student of the University of Ilorin, Olajide Omowumi Blessing, commenced on Tuesday in an Ilorin High Court amid claims and counter-claims by the defence counsels and prosecuting operative of the Department of State Security, DSS.
The trial judge, Justice lbrahim Yusuf, had on Monday adjourned till Tuesday for the commencement of trial within trial in the case.
Barrister Shina Ibiyemi, defence counsel for the first defendant, Abdulazeez Ismail, accused the DSS of using an electronic device and horsewhip on the defendant to extract confessional statements from him under duress.
Reacting, the DSS operative, Femi Babalola, swiftly denied the allegation as false, explaining that the defendants volunteered their confessional statements without any intimidation.
He said, ” At no point in time, did any operative of the department manhandled any of the suspects in order to extract confessional statements from them,” adding that ” torture and harassment are against the law.”
Babalola, said that, ” It was Abdulazeez who volunteered the statement verbally and was asked to write it under cautionary law which he obliged without torture whatsoever.
” He said Abdulazeez claimed that he is not fluent in English, hence he asked the operative to rather write the statement for him, which was afterwards read to him word for word, and was affirmed by him that it is exactly what he said, then signed and dated the document,” Babalola added.
On his part, Barrister Jimoh Lawal, counsel for the 4th and 5th defendants, Abdulkareem Shuaib and Abdulkareem Rasheed, respectively, also accused the DSS of using a taser, an electronic device on the 5th defendant, Rasheed in a bid to extract a statement from him, which Babalola also denied.
The defence counsel, further alleged that the mother of the two brothers was prevented from seeing her children which the DSS operative again dismissed, maintaining that the mother did not come to the DSS office.
Another defence counsel, Barrister Saka Ishola, like other defence counsels, also alleged that his client, Ajala Timileyin’s face was swollen in the video evidence tagged exhibit 61b, which the DSS officer affirmed.
Barrister Lukman Bello said the 6th defendant, Abdullateef Abdulrahman requested access to a lawyer but was allegedly rebuffed, therefore denying him the right to an attorney at that moment.
The DSS operative, Babalola, again denied the allegation, claiming that the DSS operatives asked if he had a legal representative but answered ‘no’.
Barrister Bello, further alleged that the statement credited to the 8th defendant, Akande Oladoja, was not written by him.
Babalola, rejected the claim, asserting that he volunteered to write it by himself since he could write properly.
Defence counsel to Daud Bashir, the 7th defendant, Barrister Imam Ayegbami, claimed that his client stated that he was not aware that the Samsung phone was a stolen item until he got to the DSS office, a fact that was missing in the statement presented by the prosecution.
The trial judge adjourned the case till September 23rd and 24th, 2021 for further hearing.
Late Blessing was allegedly raped and murdered at the off-campus residence of her elder sister in the Tanke area of Ilorin.
Eight suspects are facing trial in the case being handled by the DSS.