Court sentences four men to death for killing ex-Osun Deputy Governor’s cousin
An Osun State High Court, sitting in Osogbo, has sentenced four men to death by hanging for armed robbery and murder.The convicts are Hammed Rafiu, aged 37, Rasidi Waidi, 39, Kayode Sunday, 29, and Owolabi Bashiru, 54.
They were arraigned before the court on October 23, 2019 on six count-charge by the State Government for kidnapping and burning to death one Victor Akinbile, a cousin to the immediate past Deputy Governor of Osun State, Benedict Alabi.
The court charged them for murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to murder, stealing and kidnapping.
The Prosecution counsel from the State Ministry of Justice, Dele Akintayo, had argued that the convicts committed the offences contrary to sections 6(b) and 324 and punishable under sections 1(1) and (2) (a) (b), of the Robbery and Firearms (special provisions) Act, Cap R11, Laws of Federation of Nigeria.
They were also said to have contravened sections 319, 390(9) and 364 of the Criminal Code, Cap 34, Volume 2, and Laws of Osun State of Nigeria, 2002.
They had pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them, but the court ordered their remand in correctional custody since the inception of the matter in 2019.
During hearing, the prosecutor had explained to the court that Victor Akinbile was murdered by the convicts after he travelled down to Ikirun, Osun State on November 26, 2018 to attend the swearing-in ceremony of former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Benedict Gboyega Alabi and former Governor Adegboyega Oyetola.
Akintayo said Akinbile who slept in his uncle’s house at Moboreje Area, Ikirun, had called his (Akinbile) wife upon arrival in the said house on November 26, 2018, to inform her of his safe arrival.
He said one of the convicts, Owolabi Bashiru, a security guard opposite the house informed Hammed Rafiu, Rashidi Waidi and Kayode Sunday that Akinbile had arrived from Lagos and lodged in a house directly opposite his duty post at Basorun House Moboreje Area, Ikirun.
According to him, the convicts, who were reportedly armed with offensive weapons such as guns and cutlasses jumped the fence into the house owned by Alabi, and forcefully entered the room where Akinbile was sleeping through the window.
He said they demanded the sum of N10m from Victor who told them he didn’t have up to that amount, disclosing that he had N5 million in his bank account. The victim was said to have transferred a sum of N3m to Hammed Rafiu’s bank account in United Bank for Africa (UBA), who collected hundred of thousands of Naira cash from the victim, having threatened to kill him.
After collecting over N3m cash from him, the court was told that the convicts later kidnapped Akinbile and put him inside his Toyota Camry car boot and drove him to Dominion Camp, area old Iragbiji Road along Ikirun/Osogbo road and set him and the car on fire, an incident the prosecutor said caused the death of Akinbile.
Akintayo further informed the court that investigation revealed that Hammed Rafiu, Rashidi Waidi and Kayode Sunday had earlier robbed one Alhaji Azeez Olusegun behind Oluwo’s House Eweta, Ikirun on October 8, 2018, where the trio stole a Toyota Camry (muzzle) with registration number JJJ 371 AA LAGOS, and also collected the sum of 620,000.
He said Hammed Rafiu and Rashidi Waidi were arrested at Ogijo in Ogun State, Kayode Sunday in Ondo State, while Owolabi Bashiru was nabbed in Ikirun.
Akintayo had earlier called four witnesses and tendered several exhibits before the court, where the convicts testified by themselves.
Counsel to Owolabi Bashiru, S.B Ajibade and Adedayo Adedeji, counsel to Hammed Rafiu, Rashidi Waidi and Kayode Sunday had earlier told the court that there was no evidence to show that the accused persons held a meeting before the robbery incident, and urged the court to discharge and acquit them.
However, the presiding judge, Justice Jide Falola, while delivering his judgement, agreed that the prosecution proved his case beyond reasonable doubt.
Falola convicted the four defendants on the six count-charge and sentenced them to life imprisonment for count one; death sentence for count two; for the third count, they also got life imprisonment; they bagged death sentence for count four; five years imprisonment for count five and seven years imprisonment for count six.
Meanwhile, Justice Falola termed the case as technology-assisted and applauded the Nigeria Police for their efforts in tracking down the convicts’ locations and their bank accounts.
He further ruled that all the cash recovered from the convicts and cash in their bank accounts should be handed over to the wife of the deceased.
The judge recommended that none of the convicts should benefit from any state pardon, such as prerogative of mercy and any other.