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Bank robbery: Akure Evangelist, 5 others to die by hanging

By Bamidele Kolawole & Ayodele Popoola

An Akure High Court on Tuesday sentenced six men, including a popular Akure based Evangelist, Adewale Adelu, and five others to death by hanging for armed robbery.

Justice Yemi Fasanmi, in his judgement, handed down the death sentence on the convicts; Ikechuckwu Maduagwu, Adewale Adelu, Fayemi Olubusuyi, Ropo Adeleye, Dele Otopka, and Bayo Omotosho, for robbing two commercial banks in Akure and Idanre, 13 years ago.

The judge held that the prosecution was able to prove the offence of armed robbery against all the convicts beyond reasonable doubt.

The convicts, who were charged to court on two  charges were said to have committed the offences on November 19 and December 8, 2011 in Akure and Idanre.

They were arraigned on July 14, 2022, on four counts charge of conspiracy, armed robbery, and illegal possession of firearms and were remanded in Olokuta Correctional Centre.

Earlier, the Prosecuting  Counsel, F.K Salami told the court that the convicts and others while armed with AK 47 guns, dynamite, and other dangerous weapons at Oyemekun road, Akure, conspired to attack and robbed Diamond Bank Plc, where they carted away the sum of N30 million and different brand of phones, including other valuable property.

The convicts on December 8, 2011, at 2 pm, were also alleged to have robbed First Bank Plc at Yaba Road, Idanre, where they took away the sum of N4million.

Salami further said the defendants and others at large attacked a church around Adaba FM, Ilara-Mokin at 12:45 pm, and robbed two pastors, Jeremiah Adanlawo and D.O Ajayi of their cars with number plates JU522EKY and JV322EKY respectively.

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According to the prosecution, the offences contravene Sections 6b, 1 2a, and b of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap R11, Vol. 14 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004

But the defendant pleaded not guilty to the offences against them.

During the trial, one of the witnesses, a staff  in one of the banks, narrated that the armed robbers gained entrance into the banking hall while armed with guns.

He testified: “We suddenly heard sporadic gunshots in the bank premises. And they thereafter, blasted the entrance of the bank to gain access to the banking hall.

“One of the robbers who was masked, asked me to open the box and he packed away all the money in the box, including naira and dollars. And in the process, a policeman identified as Olowoyelu was shot dead.”

The convicts, in their separate confessional statements all admitted to taking part in the robbery operations in Akure and Idanre while they explained the individual roles they played.

They also confessed to gathering inside a bush at the back of a church in Idanre road with some gang of robbers from Lagos, Port-Harcourt, and South East that brought in the ammunition used for the operations.

The defendants also explained how the proceeds from the robbery operations were shared among them.

One of the defendants, through his counsel, S.A Ayesa, denied being responsible for the extra-judicial statement, claiming it was taken by force.

Justice Fasanmi held that though no eyewitness and evidence directly linked the defendants to the commission of the crime, the confessional statements of each of the defendants copiously corroborated with the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, including the evidence of their arrest and how they were arrested.

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The court further held that the offence of conspiracy was proven beyond doubt as the robbery was coordinated via phone call by the second defendant, Evangelist Adelu who resides in Akure.

The Judge also said the defendants were unanimous in their confessions and the role each of them played in the robberies.

Consequently, Fasanmi sentenced all the defendants to death by hanging in each of the counts.

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