Judiciary News

Court Sentences Evangelist, 5 Others To Death By Hanging Over Bank Robbery

An Akure based popular evangelist, Adewale Adelu has been sentenced to death by hanging by the State  High Court for bank robbery.

Also condemned to death are five other persons who were members of the gang of robbers which, 13 years ago, robbed two commercial banks in Akure and Idanre.

The other five members of the gang convicted are Ikechuckwu Maduagwu, Fayemi Olubusuyi, Ropo Adeleye, Dele Otopka, and Bayo Omotosho.

Handing down his verdict, the presiding judge, Justice Yemi Fasanmi held that charges pressed against the defendants were proved beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution.

The prosecution had on July 14, 2022 arraigned the defendants for conspiracy, armed robbery, and illegal possession of firearms, which they committed on November 19, 2011 and December 8, 2011 in Akure and Idanre respectively, which the prosecution said 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.

All the defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

They were subsequently remanded in Olokuta Correctional Centre in Akure .

During the hearings of the case, the prosecuting  counsel , F.K Salami, told the court that the defendants and some others, who are still at large, attacked and robbed a commercial bank, Diamond Bank, on Oyemekun Road, Akure, while they were armed with lethal weapons including AK 47 assault rifles, dynamite, and went away with a sum of N30 million from the bank and other valuables including cell phones on November 19, 2011.

He also told the court that the defendants on December 8, 2011, at 2 pm, also stormed and robbed the First Bank Plc on Yaba Road, Idanre, to the tune of N4million.

Also, the defendants and others still at large attacked a church close to a radio station in Ilara-Mokin and robbed two pastors of the church, Jeremiah Adanlawo and D.O Ajayi of their cars with registration numbers JU522EKY and JV322EKY respectively.

One of the witnesses, a staffer in one of the affected banks, narrated during the trial that the armed robbers gained entry into the banking hall armed with guns.

He told the court that “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.”

Meanwhile, in their separate confessional statements, the defendants all confessed to taking part in both robbery operations in Akure and Idanre and gave details of their individual roles in the operation s.

In the confessional statements, they revealed that they converged on a bush behind a church on Idanre Road with some gangs of robbers from Lagos, Port-Harcourt, and South East that came with arms and ammunition used during the operations.

They  also gave details of how the loots from both operations were shared among all participants.

One of the defendants, who denied being disposed to extra-judicial statement, through his counsel , S.A Ayesa, claimed he was made to speak under duress.

However, in his judgement, Justice Fasanmi said that neither the eyewitnesses  nor the available evidence directly linked the defendants to the crime, but their individual confessional statements corroborated the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses in addition to the evidence of their arrest and how they were arrested.

Justice Fasanmi also held that the charge of conspiracy was proved beyond  reasonable doubt, saying Evangelist Adelu, who resides in Akure, coordinated the operations through telephone calls.

He consequently sentenced all the defendants to death by hanging in each of the count charges.

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