Three ex-convicts — Femi Olasupo, Musbau Oloyede and Ahmed Akinsanya — who were arrested by men of the Special Anti Robbery Squad in 2011 for allegedly terrorising residents of Iwo Road area of Ibadan, Oyo State, were, on Wednesday, sentenced to 40 years each.
Some neighbours of Olasupo had reported him to the security agents claiming that he had no source of livelihood and was harbouring some people of questionable character.
The trio, after rigorous trial that lasted about seven years, were found guilty of conspiracy and illegal possession of firearms by an Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan on Wednesday.
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 security agents to an uncompleted building behind a popular eatery on Iwo Road, Ibadan, where four guns were recovered.
Olasupo’s arrest led to the arrest of Musbau from whom 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 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, Ibadan.
The prosecution established that the trio made confessional statements, although in their defence evidence, they alleged 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 prayed the court that they be discharged and acquitted.
After the trial-within-trial conducted to establish the accused persons’ culpability in the crime, the court 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.
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,” Justice Gbolagunte 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.