Three ex-convicts – Femi Olasupo, Musbau Oloyede and Ahmed Akinsanya – who were arrested in 2011 by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad for terrorising residents in the Iwo Road area of Ibadan, Oyo State, were each sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment on Wednesday.
Some neighbours of Olasupo had reported him to the police, alleging that he had no source of livelihood and harboured 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.
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 arrested in March 2011.
Upon investigation, he led detectives to an uncompleted building behind an eatery on Iwo Road, Ibadan, where four 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 in the Iwo Road area.
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 in the Iwo Road area.
The prosecution established that the trio made confessional statements, although in their defence, they alleged that they were tortured by men of SARS and forced to sign the statements.
Their counsel, Oluwole Olukole, had argued before the court that the accused were not arrested at any crime scene and that no forensic test was conducted on the firearms recovered by the police.
He had, therefore, prayed that they be discharged and acquitted.
After the trial-within-trial conducted to establish the culpability of the accused, the court found tgem guilty based on circumstantial evidence.
The judge found them guilty of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, as well as illegal possession of firearms, 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 is sufficient to justify their guilt. It was my decision after the trial-within-trial that the accused fell guilty of conspiracy. They were jailed together at Ilesa prison and released at about the same time. Count one is well founded and sustained in this case. I, therefore, hold that the accused are guilty of the offences as charged,” he said.
Before handing down the sentence, the judge asked for allocutus from each of them 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 sections 2(3) and 6(b) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, and accordingly sentenced the three accused 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. The time they have spent in custody after arrest should be 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.