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23-year-old to die for stealing handset, court rules

Friday, March 17, 2017


From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has sentenced a 23 year old Tope Abiodun to death by hanging for stealing an android LG phone valued at N87,000.00.

The court also sentenced a teenager, Godfrey Emmanuel to 14 years imprisonment for the same offence.

Another suspect, Samuel Egbe, 24 years trader at Wuse Market, Abuja, who was charged for dishonestly receiving the LG phone from the 2nd accused (Tope Abiodun) with knowledge that the said phone were stolen, was however lucky as he was discharged and acquitted by the court.

The court was amazed by the ingenuity deployed by the convicts in carrying out the Robbery attack on the owner of the LG phone, Jacob Habila, whom they attacked with a knife before disposing him of his handset.

According to the prosecution counsel, Simon Lough, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, the convicts had on October 3, 2013, at about 9:21pm , positioned themselves half naked, at Impresist junction Karmo, Abuja, and upon sighting the victim with his LG android phone, approached him to allow them make a distress call to their brother.

They told him that they were victims of a robbery attacked and would need his assistance to call their brother to bring some clothes for them to put on.

The unsuspecting Habila was touched by their story and in the process of dialling a number that was given to him, the 2nd convict (Godfrey Emmanuel), brought out a knife and stabbed him on the head, while Tope Abiodun escaped with the phone.

With blood dripping from his face, the victim raised the alarm with the shouts of “thief’ “thief” which led to the arrest of Emmanuel while trying to escape from the scene.

The matter was swiftly reported at the police and Abiodun was arrested few days later.

They were slammed with a three counts charge by the Commissioner of Police as follows; that you Godfrey Emmanuel ‘m’ 13 years and Tope Abiodun ‘m’ 19 years, all of Dape Village Karmo, Abuja, on or about October 3, 2013, at about 2110 hrs at Impresit junction Karmo, Abuja within the Abuja judicial division conspired to commit felony to wit: Armed Robbery and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 6(b) of the Robbery and Firearms Special Provisions Act, Cap R11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

That you Godfrey Emmanuel ‘m’ 13 years and Tope Abiodun ‘m’ 19 years, all of Dape Village Karmo, Abuja, on or about October 3, 2013, at about 2110 hrs at Impresit junction Karmo, Abuja within the Abuja judicial division, while armed with a knife and other offensive weapons robbed one Jacob Habila of an Android LG phone valued N87,000.00, and you Godfrey Emmanuel was arrested at the scene while trying to escape, while you Tope Abiodun escaped with the robbed LG phone and was arrested few days later. You thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(2) of the Robbery and Firearms Special Provisions Act, Cap R11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

While the 1st convict (Emmanuel) is a primary three drop out from Cross Rivers State who cannot write and speak good English, his partner in crime Abiodun, attended primary six.

During the course of trial, the suspects pleaded not guilty to all the charges whole the prosecution called five witnesses to prove his case against them, including Sgt. Celestine Nyigba, an Investigation Police Officer at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who testified as first Prosecution Witness (PWI).

The convicts were represented by their counsel, Nnamdi Nwiwu who made frantic but failed legal efforts to get them off the hook.

He however succeeded in saving the teenage robber (Godfrey Emmanuel) from the hangman noose by pleading with the court after he was found guilty of the offences, to consider the provisions of the Child Rights Act, particularly section 221 and section 405 of the Administrative if Criminal Justice Act and reduce his sentence to 14 years.

After evaluating the submissions of counsel including exhibits and documentary evidence before her, Justice Chizoba Orji found the 1st and 2nd accused persons guilty as charged.

She held that from the totality if evidence before her, the prosecution has successfully established the case of armed robbery against the 1st and 2nd accused person.

“Exhibits B5, B6 and B7 are direct written evidence of the defendants including the blood stained clothe of the victim.

“The victim who testified as PW4 maintained in his evidence which are cogent, direct and believable that he had a proper conversation with the defendants and rendered them help. He was emotional in his evidence that it was the 2nd defendant that stabbed him.

“This court is convinced that there was robbery. PW4 gave cogent evidence of the incident and how the 2nd defendant snatched his phone and ran away and the defendants confessed that they used knife to rob.

“PW4 arrested the 2nd defendant some few days later and took him to the police, while the 3rd defendant was arrested with the stolen phone.

“All these are cogent and direct evidence of conspiracy. I find that the offence of Criminal conspiracy to commit armed robbery have been proved beyond all reasonable doubts against the 1st and 2nd defendants.

“The prosecution has tendered exhibits including the picture of the victim showing head injury, his shirt which was soaked with blood. He needs not tender the knife in evidence where there is overwhelming evidence of the commission of the crime by the defendants.

“The prosecution having placed all ingredients of armed robbery contrary to section 1(2) of the Robbery and Firearms Special Provisions Act, Cap R11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the 1st and 2nd defendants are guilty as charged and I convict them accordingly.

In the case of the 3rd defendant (Samuel Egbe), who accused of receiving the stolen phone, the court agreed with his counsel, Rodney Adzuana that the prosecution has not proved a case against him.

“The case against the 3rd defendant is that of receiving the stolen LG phone with knowledge that same was stolen. The prosecution needs to prove that the 3rd defendant has knowledge that the phone was stolen.

“It was the 2nd defendant who named the 3rd defendant that he bought the phone at N11,000. Prosecution failed to prove that the 3rd defendant knew that the phone was stolen. The 3rd defendant bought the phone in the ordinary course of his legitimate business. The prosecution has failed to prove the ingredients of dishonesty and knowledge against him. He is therefore discharged and acquitted.”

Although the 1s defendant was found guilty as charged contrary to section 1(2) of the Robbery and Firearms Special Provisions Act, Cap R11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the court convicted him to seven years on each of the two counts charges, his term will run concurrently.