By Michael Ojo
A Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere Lagos on Monday sentenced two men, Kingsley Baba and Bashiru Musa, to 21 years imprisonment each for robbery.
Justice Adedayo Akintoye, who delivered judgment during virtual proceedings, found the defendants guilty of robbing their boss, Mrs Olutosin Abiola Oshinowo, at Ikoyi, Lagos.
The Lagos State Government arraigned the defendants in 2017 on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy and armed robbery.
The duo pleaded not guilty and were remanded at a correctional centre, following which trial commenced.
Justice Akintoye held that the evidence of three prosecution witnesses established that a robbery was committed on December 8, 2015.
“The evidence before the court substantiated that a robbery took place but not armed robbery.
“In this case there was no eye witness account to the offence of armed robbery as none of the prosecution witnesses saw the defendants with any weapon.
“Section 166 of the Adminstration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) provides that a person charged with an offence can be convicted and punished with another offence as if he was charged with that offence.
“If a defendant did not take part in armed robbery but took part in robbery, he will be convicted on Section 295(1) and not Section 295(2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.
“The question here is whether the defendants took part in the robbery.
“The evidence before the court is that the second defendant (Musa) claimed to be asleep when the robbery took place despite the loud noises.
“I find it hard to believe that the second defendant slept all through the entire commotion, doors were broken and gun shots heard.
“The investigating police office gave evidence that it was Musa who asked the first defendant (Baba) and others at large that they should try to rob his madam.
“It is my opinion that Musa did act in a manner to enable others to commit robbery.
“Also the confessional statement of the first defendant (Baba) stated that Musa aided in the robbery.
“The prosecution sufficiently linked the second defendant to the commission of the robbery.
“I hold that the second defendant is guilty of robbing Mrs Olutosin Abiola Oshinowo,” Akintoye said.
She also said that the prosecution could not prove the offence of robbery or armed robbery against the second defendant in count three with regard to armed robbery against one Desmond Wester.
She said that the prosecution, however, proved the offence of conspiracy to commit robbery against the first and second defendants.
She said evidence before the court stated that prior before the robbery, PW2(Victim) stated that she has seen the first and second defendants together in front of her house smoking Indian hemp.
The judge also said that the first defendant admitted in his statement that he discussed the robbery with the second defendant and one Emmanuel and Bright still at large.
“To my mind the complicity in the robbery has been established and the conspiracy to commit the robbery has also been established.
“The second defendant Bashiru Musa is found guilty of count two of robbery contrary to Section 295(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011 and he is not guilty of count three alone.
“The defendants are hereby convicted.
After the conviction, their counsel, Mr Ahmad Adetola-Kazeem, urged the court to temper justice with mercy.
He said that the defendants were first time offenders.
However, prosecution counsel Mr Yusuf Sule urged the court to use its discretion, adding that there was no previous record of conviction of the defendants.
Justice Akintoye added: “I have listened to the plea of leniency made by the counsel to the defendants. However, the law does not allow for discretion on the part of the court for these offences as imprisonment for these offences must not be less than 21 years imprisonment.
“I therefore sentence the first and second defendants on count one to 21 years imprisonment each, less their period of remand.
“The second defendant is sentenced to 21 years imprisonment on count two, less his period of remand. The sentence leveled on the second defendant shall run concurrently.
“On count three the second defendant is found not guilty. This is the sentence of this court,” Akintoye held.
According to Sule, the defendants had been in custody since 2015 when they were arrested by the police.
He told the judge that the defendants committed the offences on December 8, 2015, at about 3:30am at No.10 Samuel Oloje St., Purview Estate, Ajah, Lagos.
The court heard that the duo and others at large robbed two people, one Mrs Olutosin Abiola Oshinowo and one Desmond Wester while armed with offensive weapons and stole a laptop, cash, jewellery and an ATM card.
The offences, the prosecutor said contravened Sections 295(2)and 297 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.