The Judiciary

Driver, DPP Trade Words Over Confessional Statement Concerning Death Of LASTMA Officer

A commercial bus driver, Elijah Shokoya, 37, who is standing trial for involuntary manslaughter of an official of Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, Olawale Akinmade has claimed that he was assaulted by police officers who obtained his statement.

This allegation was made during the trial-within-trial before Justice Oyindamola Ogala on Monday to determine whether his police statement was obtained under duress.

Speaking in Yoruba language but  interpreted in English to the court while being led in evidence by the defence counsel, Mrs. Abiodun Kolawole, Shokoya said that he gave his police statement in the morning of January 27 a day after he was apprehended by authorities.

According to him “My statement was obtained in the morning around 7.10a.m. I was taken to a room outside and I was asked to write.

He said, “I told them I cannot write and that I do not understand English and I cannot read very well. They said I was lying and they slapped me and the Investigating Police Officer, IPO, started writing something. 

“I did not understand what she was writing. The other police officer used a stick to hit me on the hand and while the IPO was writing, she was beating me.

“When she finished writing, she asked me to sign what she wrote and I told her I did not understand what she wrote and I refused to sign it.

“She hit me and the other police officer beat me with a stick and I asked them to give me a mobile phone so that I can speak to a lawyer and my people.

“I wanted to speak to a lawyer so that my lawyer can interprete what was written down so that I can sign it.

“She slapped me again and the other male police officer with her was hitting me with a stick. When I realised the beating was too much, I took the biro from her and signed the statement.”

Mrs. Olayinka Adeyemi, the Lagos State Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution, DPP, querying him, Shokoya said he is a native of Ogun and that he attended the Oworonshoki Primary School, Lagos.

“I still feel pain on my left arm from the beating. I informed my lawyer about the assault. There was no LASTMA officer present when my statement was taken,” he said. 

A traffic officer serving at the Alapere Police Station, ASP Mercy Ibok had explained to the court how she obtained the driver’s statement. 

The Policewoman led in evidence by the DPP, said that after Shokoya was brought to the police station after the alleged manslaughter of the LASTMA officer, she was cordial and friendly towards him.

The IPO said that her superior was in the office alongside two LASTMA officers when the defendant’s statement was taken.

“The office is an open office that contained five chairs and a table. The atmosphere was very calm. I conversed with him in English Language.

According to her, “The defendant asked me to write his statement and he went through it before signing it.

“The allegations that he was coerced into giving a statement is false. I did not beat him.”

While being cross-examined by Kolawole, the officer said that Shokoya never told her that he did not understand English Language and that a lawyer was not present when his statement was taken.

Explaining the negligence on why she did not indicate the time the defendant’s statement was taken, the IPO said that it was as a result of receiving the bad news of Akinmade’s death.

“I did not indicate the time of the statement because she was in a state of shock and when I heard the bad news, I took him to the cell.

“I did not write the content of the statement as a result of bias” she explained to the court.

The judge adjourned the case until December 12 for adoption of written addresses in the trial-within-trial.

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