TRACKING>>An Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan, on Wednesday sentenced three men to 40 years imprisonment for being found guilty of offences of conspiracy and illegal possession of firearms.
The convicts; Femi Olasupo, Musbau Oloyede and Ahmed Akinsanya were in 2011 arrested by men of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) after some neighbours of reported Femi Olasupo to the security agents, claiming that he had no source of livelihood and was harbouring some people of questionable characters 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.
Femi’s arrest led to the arrest of Musbau in whose possession, some illegal firearms were also recovered at another uncompleted building around Iwo Road area of Ibadan.
When the third accused person was arrested however, no arms were recovered from him but evidence from the prosecution witnesses revealed 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.
The prosecution said the accused 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 that the accused were not arrested at any crime scene, and that no forensic test was conducted on the firearms to link the accused persons and prayed that they be discharged and acquitted.
After the trial-within-trial conducted to establish the accused persons’ culpability in the crime, 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 of arms 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,” he said.