An Ado- Ekiti High Court, on Monday, sentenced four persons – Ojo Ajayi, 22; Matthew Osalade, 23; Adebisi Ogundare, 23 and Busayo Adeniyi, 23 – to death by hanging for armed robbery and other offences.
The defendants had, on August 24, 2020, been arraigned before Justice Bamidele Omotoso on a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy, armed robbery, attempted murder and cultism.
The offences were said to have contravened Sections 516, 402(2) and 320 of the Criminal Code, Cap. C16, Laws of Ekiti State of Nigeria, 2012 and Section 4(1) of the Secret Cults (Abolition and Prohibition) First Amendment Law, No. 6, 2017.
According to the charge, the convicts, on January 1, 2019 at Odo-Ado Area of Ado Ekiti, did conspire to commit armed robbery on Mary Ezeaku, Joshua Ige and Hassan Abdulmalik.
They were also said to have attempted to murder one Olajide Babatunde, aside being found to be members of a prohibited society, called Eiye Confraternity.
The charge also said that they were armed with offensive weapons, such as guns, axe and knives and that they dispossessed the victims of their belongings, including: phones, necklace, wristwatch and a cash sum of N30,500, among others.
One of the victims, Joshua Ige, who testified before the court said: “We were coming from a show in Ekute quarters of Ado Ekiti around 4:00 a.m. and we boarded a motorcycle to Odo-Ado area.
“As we were approaching Odo-Ado, the motorcyclist suddenly stopped at a lonely place.
“Before we knew what was happening, some boys had come out of their hiding and pointed gun at us. Some of them held axe and knives with which they robbed us of our phones, necklace, wristwatch and other valuables.
“The matter was reported at the police station before they were later arrested.”
To prove his case, the Prosecutor, Albert Adeyemi, called six witnesses and tendered the defendants’ statements, one locally-made pistol, one live ammunition, two axes, two cutlasses and 12 handsets, among others as exhibits.
The defendants spoke in their own defence through their counsel, Adeyinka Opaleke, of Ekiti State Coordinator of Legal Aid Council, while they called no witness.
In his judgment, the judge said: “I resolve the sole issue for determination in this case partially in favour of the prosecutor and against the defendants.
“They are found guilty of the offences of conspiracy, armed robbery and attempted murder.
“The punishment for armed robbery is death. The sentence of this court upon the defendants is that they be hanged by the neck until they be dead. May God have mercy on your souls,” he said.
Omotoso also sentenced the convicts to life imprisonment for attempted murder and seven years imprisonment each for conspiracy.