In accordance with the provision of the law, you are hereby sentenced to death by hanging by the neck until death. May the Lord have mercy on us.”With these words, Justice Atinuke Ipaye of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja yesterday sentenced a bricklayer, Femi Adebowale, to death by hanging for being found guilty of armed robbery.
The judge found him guilty of a four-count charge offence brought against him by the Lagos State government in accordance with section 295(2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.
The judge said the minimum penalty provided by the law is death sentence for each of the four-count offence for which the convict was charged. The prosecution counsel, Mr. Akin George, told court that Adebowale robbed one Alhaja Amudalat Olowo-Eyo of gold jewelries valued at over N500,000 and cash sum of N350,000, among other valuable documents at gun point.
He further stated that the convict, with others at large, robbed their victims on December 28, 2012, between 1a.m. and 2a.m. at their residence, No. 10, Aiyetolu Street, Abule Egba, Lagos. However, the convict had pleaded not guilty sometimes last year when he was arraigned.
At the commencement of trial, Alhaja Olowo-Eyo, the complainant, had told the court how the convict and others at large, robbed her at her residence, saying the convict told them they would waste their lives if they refused to cooperate with them.
Also, she identified the convict as being among the bricklayers brought in by her landlord for the renovation of their house two days before the incident. She noted that after robbing them, her husband was able to pin one of the robbers down, a situation that gave her courage to also grab another robber next to her.
Alhaja Olowo-Eyo further told the court that in order to free himself, the robber shot her twice in the chest but that God kept her alive. She testified further that colleagues of the convict who escaped came back 20 minutes later and rained bullets on their apartment, recounting that one of her daughters was hit in the stomach, another on the back, while her son was hit on the thigh.
The presiding judge dismissed the alibi (claim) provided by the convict that he was away in Akure for his marriage introduction on the day of the incident. She described as not credible the evidence provided by the supposed father-in-law, who told the court during trial that he met the convict for the first time on the day of the ceremony.
However, outside the court, a prison official, Mr. A. A. Teriba, manhandled some journalists who attempted to take the picture of the convicted armed robber, Femi Adebowale. The mild drama occurred after Justice Ipaye convicted Adebowale to death by hanging.
Trouble started when a correspondent with the Nation newspaper, Mr. Bisi Onanuga, one of the journalists that covered Adebowale’s proceedings, wanted to take the picture of the convict, who was being led away into the transit cell of the court.
The warder, Teriba, in an attempt to prevent the convict’s picture from being taken, left the convict unguarded and pounced on Onanuga, rough-handled and punched him on the chest.
He also ordered him to hand over his Black Berry phone he wanted to use to take the photograph. In the scuffle that ensued, the warder tore his shirt and removed three buttons from the cloth.
After Onanuga had passed the phone to a colleague, Gbenga Adewoye of the AIT/RayPower, Teriba turned his attention to Adewoye and punched him severally on the chest in an attempt to forcibly take the phone from him.
The incident attracted various officers of the court, including lawyers. It finally took the intervention of the Director, Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mrs. Idowu Alakija, before the situation was brought under control.
Two weeks ago, the warder had assaulted a correspondent of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Wahab Akinlade, when he took the photograph of the Baale of Temidire village in Alagbado, Alhaji Nojeen Abioye, who is standing trial for alleged murder and manslaughter.
The incident attracted the attention of Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, who chided the prison official and told him there was nothing offensive in the photograph.