Seven gunmen have been sentenced to death by an Ondo state High Court on Thursday sitting in Akure, the state’s capital.
The convicted armed robbers, who are to die by hanging, were said to be involved in the killing of an American-based businessman, Banji Adafin, who had return to Nigeria for vacation.
The seven young men: Jimoh Sodiq a.k.a Akamo, Blessing Ogunlade, Yomi Balogun a.k.a Regal, Oluwaseun Oluwalola a.k.a Iyan, Akeem Adedayo, Oso John Omoniyi a.k.a Bosco and Sodiq Babatunde were found guilty of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit murder and for illegal possession of firearms.
The court also sentenced to one-year imprisonment, the eighth offender, Damilola Samuel a.k.a Mama, who was the girlfriend of one of the convicts for allegedly aiding the culprit.
The armed robbery attack, which occurred on July 4, 2017, at No. 5 Temidire street, Muyiwa Oni Avenue along AkureOwo expressway, Akure, led to the killing of the deceased in the presence of his wife, before carting away valuables.
In a four-hour judgement, the trial judge, Justice Samuel Bola held that the prosecuting counsel and officials of the Department of State Services, DSS, had proved beyond reasonable doubts that the seven men are culpable in the death of late Banji Adafin.
Justice Bola said the offenders committed the offences in contravention of the Robbery and Firearms Act, laws of the Federation (2004) and the Criminal Code, laws of Ondo state (2006).
In their reaction to the judgement, the defense counsels, Abdulrahman Yusuf and Samuel Aiyesa, said the judgement would be appealed after it was reviewed.
Meanwhile, the wife of the deceased, Abimbola Adafin, had during the trial, given a vivid description of how the armed robbers invaded their home and killed her husband.
“l was inside the bedroom with my husband and daughter when l heard Hannah Temitope (a relative) and Deborah Petti (a housemaid) suddenly scream at the top of their lungs which made me rush out of the bedroom to the living room,” she told the court.
“When I got to the sitting room, I saw why the two women screamed. They were held at gunpoint by two armed robbers.
“When I saw the armed robbers, I panicked and ran back to the room. Unknown to me, the armed robbers had gained access inside the house through the kitchen door.”
She told the court that when the housemaid screamed for help, she was threatened to keep quiet or else she would be shot, and was ordered to lie along with the family’s relative, while the armed robbers beat the women with an iron rod.
She testified further that the armed robbers took away 2 Samsung plasma television sets, her husband’s Samsung phone, one techno phone and an electric pressing iron.
A DSS official, Olajiri Fadipe, who also spoke in court, revealed that while six of the gunmen were actively involved in the armed robbery, the seventh accused person had supplied unlicensed firearms for the operation.
In her statement, Damilola Samuel had confessed that she was in a relationship with the second defendant, Blessing Ogunlade, which had made her do his bidding when he asked her to remove some incriminating items from his home.