Two men, Samuel Oyeniyi, 30, and Friday Utu, 27, were on Friday at an Ikeja High Court in Lagos, sentenced to 14 years imprisonment each for attempted armed robbery.
The two men were arrested for attempting to rob unsuspecting commuters in a commercial bus — a crime popularly known as ‘one chance’.
“Once Chance” refers to a situation where criminals pose as commuters and passengers, using a supposedly commercial transport (usually a taxi), with only one seat space left and robs any unsuspecting passenger who boards the last seat.
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye sentenced the duo after being found guilty of a three-count charge, boarding on conspiracy to commit armed robbery and attempted armed robbery.
“I have listened to the passionate allocutus of the defence counsel.
“I believe that they have learnt a lesson from their time in incarceration and I have taken notice of the fact that the defendants are young men in their prime.
“However, we should not ignore the menace of armed robbers in our society, especially the ones who specialise in this specie of robbery known as ‘one chance’ — dispossessing unsuspecting passengers of their valuables.
“I hereby sentence Samuel Oyeniyi and Friday Utu to 14 years in prison on each on the three-counts of the offences of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and attempted armed robbery.
“The sentences shall run concurrently and the time spent in custody by the defendants which is from Feb. 15, 2012 shall be taken into consideration in accordance with Section 315 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2011,’’Ipaye ruled.
Earlier, Defence Counsel to the duo, Miss G.N. Udoanya, in her allocutus, pleaded with the judge to temper justice with mercy.
“I humbly appeal to the court to temper justice with mercy and be lenient in sentencing the defendants.
“The defendants are young men in their prime, they have no previous criminal records and as young men, they still have a lot to contribute to society.
“They have young children as well as aged parents and the aged father of Oyeniyi, who always attended the court proceedings, particularly depends on his son for his livelihood,” she said.
The Prosecution, led by Mrs O. Akinsete, a Senior State Counsel, asked for a sentence which will serve as a deterrent to other perpetrators of ‘one chance’ crimes.
“We urge the court to do substantive justice in this case, having convicted them in this matter and mete out a sentence that will deter other perpetuators of this kind of crime,” she said.
Akinsete said that Utu pretended to be a commercial bus driver with Oyeniyi as his conductor.
“The duo, alongside a third accomplice, who is now at large committed the offence at 10 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2012 along the Mile Two-Ijesha, Expressway in Lagos,’’ he said.
The prosecutors alleged that the convicts had picked up passengers heading to Ijesha from Mile Two bus-stop.
“ During the trip to Ijesha, Oyeniyi turned off the inner light of the vehicle, brought out a shotgun and demanded that passenger’s handover their valuables to him.
“A brave passenger grabbed the gun and struggled with Oyeniyi while another passenger who sat at the back of the bus fought a member of the gang, who was wielding an iron bar.
“The commotion led Utu, the driver to lose control of the bus causing him to hit a stationary object on the road which made the bus flip over and trap the inhabitants.
“The passengers raised an alarm attracting members of the public and Utu and Oyeniyi were apprehended by authorities while the third assailant escaped.
“The defendants gave confessional statements to the police at the Ijesha Police Station and two male passengers of the bus, who were some of their victims testified for the prosecution during the trial” Akinsete said.
The offences violated Sections 296(2) (a) and 297 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.