By Deborah Oladejo, Osogbo
An Osun State High Court sitting in Osogbo, has sentenced four men to death by hanging for armed robbery and murder.
The convicts Hammed Rafiu, 37, Rasidi Waidi, 39, Kayode Sunday, 29, and a security guard, Owolabi Bashiru, 54, were arraigned before the court on 23rd October, 2019.
The four men were arraigned on six count charges of conspiracy, contrary to section 6(b), armed robbery, contrary to and punishable under section 1(1) and (2) (a) (b), of the Robbery and Firearms (special provisions) Act, Cap R11, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, conspiracy to murder, contrary to section 324, murder, contrary to and punishable under section 319, stealing, contrary to and punishable under section 390 (9) and kidnapping, contrary to and punishable under section 364 of the Criminal Code, Cap 34, Volume 2, Laws of Osun State of Nigeria, 2002.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Prosecution Counsel from the Ministry of Justice, Dele Akintayo, said the four-man gang murdered one Victor Akinbile, a cousin of former Deputy Governor, Adegboyega Benedict Alabi who travelled down to Ikirun, Osun State on November 26, 2018 to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the former deputy governor.
Akintayo told the court that Akinbile who slept in his uncle’s house at Moboreje Area, Ikirun called his wife upon arrival in the said house to inform her of her safe arrival.
He further told the court that Owolabi Bashiru, a security guard opposite the house informed Hammed Rafiu, Rashidi Waidi and Kayode Sunday that Akinbile had arrived from Lagos and lodged in a house directly opposite his duty post.
The convicts, who were reportedly armed with offensive weapons like guns, cutlasses, jumped the fence into the house and forcibly gained entrance into the room where Akinbile slept.
Having gained entrance into the house through burglary window they demanded N10 million from the deceased who told them he didn’t have up to that amount, telling them that he had N5 million in his bank account.
The deceased transferred N3 million to Hammed Rafiu’s bank account in United Bank for Africa (UBA), and collected hundreds of thousands of naira cash from the victim, having threatened to kill him.
The convicts later kidnapped Akinbile and put him in the boot of his Toyota Camry car and drove him to Dominion Camp area along Ikirun/Osogbo road and set him and the car ablaze.
During the trial, investigation revealed that Hammed Rafiu, Rashidi Waidi and Kayode Sunday had earlier robbed Alhaji Azeez Olusegun behind Oluwo’s House, Eweta, Ikirun on October 8, 2018 where the trio stole a Toyota Camry (muzzle) with registration number JJJ 371 AA LAGOS and also collected ₦620,000.
Hammed Rafiu and Rashidi Waidi were arrested at Ogijo in Ogun State, Kayode Sunday in Ondo State, while Owolabi Bashiru was nabbed in Ikirun.
Akintayo had earlier called four witnesses and tendered several exhibits before the court, where the convicts testified by themselves.
Counsel to Owolabi Bashiru, fourth accused person, Mr. S.B Ajibade and Adedayo Adedeji counsel to Hammed Rafiu, Rashidi Waidi and Kayode Sunday earlier told the court that there was no evidence to show that the accused persons held a meeting before the robbery incident and urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused.
Justice Jide Falola agreed that the prosecution counsel has proven his case beyond any reasonable doubt and convicted them on all the charges preferred against them.
In his judgement, Falola sentenced them accordingly; count one, life imprisonment, count two, death sentence, count three, life imprisonment, count four, death, count five, five years imprisonment and count six, seven years imprisonment.
He described the case as technology assisted and he applauded the police for their efforts in tracking down the convicts’ locations and their bank accounts.
He further ruled that all the cash recovered from the convicts and cash in their bank accounts be handed over to the wife of the deceased, with the recommendation that none of the convicts should benefit from any state pardon, such as prerogative of mercy and any other of such.