By Kayode Adeoti
The Kwara State High Court yesterday sentenced one Opeyemi Esan and his accomplice, Benjamin Moses Musa and Oluwasegun Omoyajowo Ajiboye to death by hanging over attempted murder of Prof. Onimisi Abdullah of the University of Ilorin.
The convicts had been standing trial before the court since last year.
Justice Halimat Salman however, convicted them on a three-count charge of Criminal Conspiracy, Armed Robbery and Culpable Homicide in contrary to section 97 of the Penal Code Law, section 2(1) of the Armed Robbery and Firearms Act 2004 and section 229 of the Penal Code Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Delivering judgment, the Judge, who chronicled the trial, held that the charges were established against the convicts beyond reasonable doubt and therefore ruled that they die by hanging in line with the penalty for the last charge, culpable homicide.
They also bagged four and six years respectively for the first two offences viz criminal conspiracy and armed robbery.
“The society needs to do away with your likes for sanity. You are hereby found guilty of the three-count charge and sentenced to death by hanging”, the Judge pronounced.
She revealed that leader of the bandit, Esan, former driver of Prof. Abdullah was disengaged from duty for unruly behaviour, adding that the aggrieved sacked employee planned a robbery attack to revenge dismissal by his boss.
“In his confession to the police, the 1st convict said he recruited the 2nd and 3rd persons from Lagos to retaliate the sack by his former boss.
“Prof. Abdullah was attacked alongside his wife and sons: Mrs Salamatu Abdullahi, Tijani Abdullahi and Abdulmumin Abdullahi respectively on 10th September, 2016, with all of them sustaining multiple cuts,” the Judge stated.
Two of the convicts, Moses and Ajiboye sobbed profusely as the court pronounced the judgement.
Earlier, the convicts had pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy, promising to turn a new leaf if given a second chance.
The counsel to the convicts, Barrister Kamaru Ogunbade, who led three other lawyers, prayed the court to be lenient in its judgment.
The counsels submitted that the first and second convicts were fathers of young children while the third has aged parents and he is bread winner of his family.
Meantime, the prosecutor, Barrister Muhammed Akande, who stood in for the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Kamaldeen Ajibade, appreciated the court for being painstaking in the process that led to the judgement.
The Police First Information Report (FIR) obtained by this medium from the court at the beginning of the trial, stated that the convicts attacked the Don and his family members with cutlass, knives and other dangerous weapons during the robbery incident.
It listed the property carted away as: one Toyota Camry, (Muzzle) with Lagos registration No: BQ 876 AKD valued at N5m, jewelleries worth N185,000, a LG flat screen valued at N60, 000; two mobile phones valued at N68,000 and a cash sum of N20,000.
The principal suspect was apprehended on the second day of the attack by Special Anti Squad (SARS), who used his wife as bait.
The two others were later arrested at Honeymoon Hotel, Unity area of Ilorin following their identification with an Identity card found in a wallet at the scene of the incident.
The duo were said to be enjoying proceeds of their theft at the facility when they were nabbed by the police.