An Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan, the state capital on Wednesday sentenced three men to 40 years (each) in prison for conspiracy and illegal possession of firearms.
The trio: Femi Olasupo, Musbau Oloyede and Ahmed Akinsanya were in 2011 arrested by men of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) after some neighbours of Femi Olasupo reported him to the security agents claiming that he had no source of livelihood and was harbouring people of questionable character who were terrorising residents of the area.
According to the prosecution in the suit marked I/1786/2012 heard before Justice Adegboye Gbolagunte of the Ring Road High Court 7, the first accused person was in March 2011 arrested and upon investigation, he led the security agents to an uncompleted building behind Mr Bigg’s eatery at Iwo Road, Ibadan, where four barrel guns were recovered.
Olasupo’s arrest led to the arrest of Oloyede in whose possession, some illegal firearms were also recovered at another uncompleted building around Iwo Road area of Ibadan.
Evidence from the prosecution witness revealed to the court that the trio had earlier been jailed together at the Ilesa, Osun State Prison from where they were released around the same time, only to form a gang operating around Iwo Road of Ibadan.
According to the prosecution, the trio made confessional statements, although in their defence evidence, they alleged that they were tortured by men of SARS and that they were forced to sign the statements.
Their counsel Oluwole Olukole had argued before the court that the accused persons were not arrested at any crime scene, and that no forensic test was conducted on the firearms to link the accused persons. He had therefore prayed that they be discharged and acquitted.
After the trial-within-trial conducted to establish the accused persons’ culpability in the crime, the court, however, found them guilty based on circumstantial evidence led by the prosecution.
The Judge found them guilty of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, as well as, illegal possession of firearms recovered from them which corroborated the allegation of illegal possession contrary to the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Laws of the Federation.
As part of his decision, the Judge said, “In my view, the recovery of firearms in possession of the accused persons is sufficient to justify their guilt. It was my decision after the trial-within-trial that the accused persons fell guilty of conspiracy. They were jailed together at Ilesa Prison and released at about the same time. Count 1 is well founded and sustained in this case. I therefore hold that the accused persons are guilty of the offences as charged,” he said.
Before handing down the sentence, the Judge asked for allocutus from each of the accused persons since their counsel was absent from court to plead on their behalf, and they individually begged that the Judge should temper justice with mercy.
In his judgment, Gbolagunte relied on Section 2(3) and 6 (b) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) and accordingly sentenced the three accused persons to “20 years on count 1 of conspiracy, and 20 years on count 2 of illegal possession of firearms. The sentences are to run concurrently with the time they have spent in custody after the arrest deducted from the sentence.
“I therefore make an order that the exhibits recovered from the convicts be seized and destroyed by the state”.
Author: Musliudeen Adebayo