11th June, 2010
A dismissed LASTMA official, Abayomi Tom Dollas, standing trial before an Ikeja Magistrate’s Court for allegedly defrauding innocent citizens of various sums of money has told the court that he was forced to implicate himself by the police who tortured him.
Giving evidence in a trial-within-trial before Magistrate Adeola Adedayo, the accused said he did not volunteer to make a statement when he was arrested.
The trial within trial was at the instance of the defence counsel, Keji Saliu, who opposed the tendering of the purported statement of the defendant. He alleged that the defendant was tortured after his arrest to make the statement.
In his evidence, the accused disclosed that he was arrested on April 14, 2010 and taken to the office of the Special Assistant on Transportation to the governor, Kayode Opeifa at Alausa.
He said he was told that there was a petition against him. He was later taken to the task force section where he was detained for 11 days.
â€œAt the taskforce office, I was told to write a statement but when I didnâ€™t, they volunteered to write for me. I was told that if I tell the truth my pictures will not be splashed all over the TV stations and newspapers. I donâ€™t evenÂ know the circumstances surrounding my arrest,” he narrated.
Under cross examination, the investigating police officer, Corporal Olufemi Ashade, informed the court that the defendantâ€™s statement was not obtained under duress.
He denied that the defendant was beaten, tortured or threatened.
Ashade told the court further that the defendantâ€™s statement was recorded by a superior officer, Supol Ogunfeyitimi, who later read it to him and the defendant signed.
Ashade said the accused was arrested for collecting various sums of money from unsuspecting members of the public with a promise to recruit them in LASTMA, a representation he knew was false.
Earlier, in his submission, the defendantâ€™s lawyer, Saliu told the court that in a criminal trial, the onus of proof lies on the prosecution but in this instance it failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
According to him, doubt now exist in the mind of the court because the defendant alleged beating and threat and the police officer has also said the statement ascribed to him was written on his behalf by another officer who didnâ€™t sign.
â€œYour honour, Section 27 (2) of the Evidence Act only allows the court to admit confessional statement, if voluntary. I urge the court to reject the attempt by the prosecution to tender the purported statement,” he submitted.
In a counter argument, the prosecution said the court must look at the surrounding circumstances within which the statement was made and the defendant has never denied the contents of the statement which is the reason why he is facing the charge.
Ruling on the matter has been fixed for 30 June.