Conspiracy: Driver, 16 travellers jailed 93 years
By Ayodele Popoola
A commercial bus driver, Abubakar Aliu, his conductor, and 15 passengers suspected to be terrorists, have been sentenced to five years each in prison, for conspiracy by an Akure Magistrates’ Court.
Aliu and his conductor, Aruna Tukur were also sentenced to four years imprisonment after they were found guilty of illegal possession of firearms
Other convicts are; Abdularasaq Idris, Rufai Nura Sagri Musa, Imarana Bello, Tasiu Suliaman, Musa Bala, Saliu Saidu, Musur Adamu, Abduhlai Ibrahim, Imarana Yusuf Abdulahi Mustafa and Mubarak Tsalhas.
The Magistrate, Damilola Sekoni convicted the defendants after he found them guilty of two out of the three counts levelled against them.
Sekoni held, “I am satisfied with the circumstantial evidence given. In the instance of the avalanche of evidence before me, all the defendants are guilty of the first count. The 11th and 13th defendants, who are the driver and his conductor, are guilty of the second count, while all the other defendants are acquitted of the charge.”
He added that all the sentences are to run concurrently without options of fine.
Sekoni said the action of the defendant is unacceptable in the society and the judgment would serve as deterrent to those who would want to indulge in such act.
The defendants were earlier arraigned by men of the Western Nigeria Security Outfit codenamed ‘Amotekun’ Corps on three counts of conspiracy, illegal possession of firearms and wandering in public place.
Prosecuting counsel, O.F Akeredolu, told the court that the defendants were arrested on November 4, 2021, along Akure/ Ondo expressway by men of the Amoteken Corps after their bus attempted to overrun the security agents and sped off.
Akeredolu said the defendants conspired to commit a felony.
He alleged that the passengers conspired with the driver not to wait for the officers of the law when the bus was waved down at the checkpoint.
The prosecutor added that the defendants were in possession of firearms, such as guns and daggers, without a valid license.
He stated that the defendants were also found wandering in a public place at about 2am, saying such circumstances led to the conclusion that they were at the place for an illegal and disorderly purpose.
According to the prosecution, the offences contravene Sections 516 and 260 of the Criminal Code Law of Ondo State, 2006 and Section 6(b) Cap R11 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision Act) Laws of the Federation 2004.”
However, each of the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During the trial, the defence counsels, O.J. Emmanuel and P.O. Attah, canvassed that the defendants were innocent travellers that boarded the bus from a park in Kaduna, heading to Lagos.
Emmanuel, in his written address told the court that the driver of the bus knew nothing about the sack containing daggers found inside the bus, as they were just a message given to him to someone in Lagos.
He added that the defendants refused to wait when they were stopped by the security agents
The defendants in their separate evidence, denied the ownership of the sack of weapons found inside the bus, claiming they were just passengers.
The driver claimed that no gun was found in the bus. He told the court that the sacks containing knives and daggers were in a package given to them at the park in Kaduna, to be delivered to someone in Lagos. He claimed he did not bother to know the content of the message.
Recall The Hope Metro had reported that 18 persons in a passenger bus conveying weapons in Ondo town were arrested by men of the Amotekun corps.
It was gathered that the bus was loaded with 500 pieces of weapons, such as guns, knives, carriages and swords. The items were reportedly concealed inside a sack and were kept under the seat of the bus.
According to the state Commander of Amotekun, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, three buses escaped from different checkpoints in the state, but one of them was arrested in Ondo town.
“They had a brief stop just before they entered the town and when our men tried to stop them, the three buses escaped. We had to radio all our control points and we were able to bring the three buses to a stop at a point on Ondo road, by a combined team, which included the police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“The buses attempted to overrun the security agents and sped off. The speed was so much that they hit the barricades on the road. We discovered that it was difficult pursuing them and didn’t want to cause any accident. So, we radioed our station in Owena and the security men there blocked the road.
“On getting there, they were able to escape by hitting the barricades again. We continued pursuing them while we called the Ile-Oluji junction, and told them to block the road properly. But the suspects also escaped. We now have a complete blockade before the Akure garage in Ondo town and we were able to apprehend them.”