A High Court sitting in Asaba in the Asaba Judicial Division, Delta State has sentenced three armed robbers to death by hanging.
The three convicts Samuel Osadebe, Emeka Obodoechina and Onyelluka Owelleka were arraigned before Justice Tessy Diai sitting at Asaba High Court Two on charges bothering on armed robbery and kidnapping, having pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The prosecution witness, Inspector Hygenius Nwadike testified that the Ist Accused person, Samuel Osadebe with Facebook name, ‘ Barry ‘ lured him to Asaba from Owerri under the pretext that he wanted to open his new house, in Asaba.
He led evidence stating that the accused person sent someone to pick him up in a Honda vehicle. On their way, he continued, they stopped at a bush and five armed men emerged from the bush with locally made pistol, sticks and cutlasses. After beating him mercilessly, his was dispossessed of his valuables, including the sum of N3, 700.00. They thereafter demanded a ransom of N2.5 million, but paid N90, 000 after negotiation before he was released.
He further testified that while still in custody of his abductors, another victim, one Ese Ekong a Youth Corps member was brought to the same place. The 1st Accused person confessed to Police that Ese passed out after severe beating, and his corpse was subsequently dumped in a forest river.
The defence counsel to the respective Accused persons urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused based on contradictions in dates, when the kidnap of the deceased was reported to the Police, when PW 2 saw the deceased, and failure to call material witness.
Relying on both judicial and statutory authorities, the presiding Jurist dismissed the submissions of the defence counsel, stressing that the purported contradictions were not fatal to the prosecution’s case.
In a 21 page judgement, Justice Diai posited that having considered the cases of the suspects he was convinced that each of the three accused was guilty of offences of Armed robbery and kidnapping under section 1 (2) (a) Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Act Cap R11 Vol. 14 Laws of Delta State, Demanding by Menaces, punishable under section 406 of Criminal Code Law Cap C 21 Vol. 1 Laws of Delta State Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Terrorist Law No.8, 2013.
Reacting to allocutus (plea of mercy) by defence counsel, the court stated that it wished it could impose terms of years at least to serve as lesson to the Accused persons, but said it couldn’t having regard to the fact that the sentence for armed robbery was mandatory death sentence.
Justice Diai decried the rising number of youths indulging in armed robbery, saying: “It is really sad that young boys of this age would engage in such business which has eventually become their own fall. Sometimes one cannot help but wonder whether the involvement of young people in crimes such as this, is due to failure on the part of parents, failure of the system, peer pressure or greed. Whatever it is, it does not bode well for Nigeria.”