By Sunmola Olowookere
N emesis caught up with an armed robber, James Dennis Ofem who was part of a group of armed robbers that robbed motorists on the Ondo/Ore highway. He was recently sentenced to death by hanging following his conviction for conspiracy and armed robbery by an Akure High court.
Many motorists have terrifying stories of how armed robbers robbed them on the highway as the robbers have devised various means of hoodwinking unsuspecting motorists such as placing on the road planks or oranges filled with nails or having one of their gang members pose as a stranded traveller.
James Dennis Ofem from Cross River state came to Ondo State last year and he was arrested as a member of a gang of armed robbers and brought to court on a two count charge of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery.
He was charged according to an information filed by the prosecution which was led by Barr Wale Bamisile of the Department of Public Prosecution of the Ministry of Justice.
According to the prosecution, on the 12th day of July, 2017, Ofem was said to have conspired with his cohorts and robbed one Adamu Mustapha of his CoolPad phone, Infinix handset and Nokia handset with the others who are still at large on Ondo/Ore expressway around Liyetu village while armed with dangerous weapons.
While giving evidence before the court, the first prosecution witness, Adamu Mustapha who was the complainant said that he was driving his mack truck along the road with his motorboy when he was waylaid by a gàng of armed robbers who put iron and planks filled with nails on the road.
He stated further that the armed robbers, having stopped them, beat them mercilessly and collected their clothes, phones and a sum of N52, 710 and ran away with their loots.
He told the court that it was two days later when policemen from the Enuowa division, Ondo called him that his stolen phone had been recovered and the culprits arrested.
Another witness, one Sergeant Franklin Alabi of Enuowa police station said that the police at their station received a distress call about an armed robbery that took place on the highway on the 10th of July, 2017 while their anti-robbery team mobilized themselves and went to the scene of crime.
At the scene, he testified that his team met mobile policemen of the Safer Highway already on ground and said that they had investigated the case together.
In the course of their investigation, he stated that the local vigilante group in the area had brought the accused person to them after arresting him with the claim that he was discovered hiding in a nearby bush near the scene of crime at Liyetu village, Ondo.
The witness explained further that he was detailed to investigate the case and while obtaining the statement of the accused person, he had made confession as to the commission of the crime.
After this, Alabi said that the case was transferred to FSARS in Akure for discreet investigation.
An officer of FSARS, one Inspector Danjuma Umoru testified before the court that the accused person was transferred along with the other exhibits I.e the recovered stolen items and the obtained statements from the complainant and the accused person to their station and that he also led his team to visit the scene of crime.
He stated that he discovered that part of the items that were said to be stolen from the complainant were found with the accused person which further shows his complicity.
He said that his statement was obtained under caution and that it was endorsed by his defense counsel, one Barr. Seun Asake of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria.
The prosecution tendered the statements and the phones before the court as evidence in the case and they were admitted as exhibits.
The presiding judge while delivering his judgement stated that he found the accused person guilty of the two count charge preferred against him.
On the first count of conspiracy, he ruled that there was no need to prove a direct communication between people before a case of conspiracy is established.
On establishing the charge of armed robbery against the accused person, Justice Olamide said that the witness made allusions to the use of arms in the armed robbery attack.
While ruling that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, he held that the accused person was indeed guilty of the crime and that he was part of the armed robbers that robbed the complainant.
He was therefore sentenced to death by hanging following his conviction.
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