By Onozure Dania, Lagos
Justice Mobolanle Okikiolu-Ighile, of a Lagos High court, sitting at Tafa Balewa Square (TBS), yesterday sentenced three men, Monday Abdul, Mohammed Dungu and Mohammed Isah, to 14 years imprisonment for attempted robbery.
The Lagos state government first arraigned the defendants, Abdul, 34, Dungu, 33 and Isah, 29, on August 29, 2013.
They all pleaded not guilty to a count charge of attempted robbery and were remanded in custody.
During trial the prosecution called three witnesses, to testify in the case.
At the resumed hearing of the case yesterday, the defendants were re-arraigned and they changed their plea of not guilty to guilty.
The defendants had through their lawyers brought a plea bargain agreement, urging the court to accept the terms of the agreement and make it the judgment of the court.
Justice Okikiolu-Ighile, however, asked the defendants if they were forced or threatened to make the plea bargain agreement.
The defendants answered that they understood the terms of the plea bargain agreement and were not forced or threatened to make the agreement.
Justice Okikiolu-Ighile, however, held that in view of Section 76 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, 2011, the court has ascertained from the defendants that they entered into the plea bargain agreement on their own free volution.
The judge said, “In the light of the defendants’ plea. I have taken into consideration the testimony of the prosecution witnesses and I have considered the voluntariness established by the defendants in court.
“I find each of the defendants guilty as charged.
“In sentencing, I have looked deeply into the plea bargain agreement and I am satisfied that they understood why they pleaded guilty.
“Accordingly, having been found guilty of the charge. I hereby sentence you to 14 years imprisonment each starting from the date of remand which is August 29, 2013.
“The convicts are to be returned to the Kirikiri Correctional centre to complete their sentence.
“This is a second chance, you should go and make yourselves useful to the society”.
Justice Okikiolu-Ighile sentenced the defendants after the Lagos State Prosecutor, Mrs T. A. Aderele, had reviewed the facts of the case.
Earlier, she had told the court that the facts were as stated in the charge.
Aderele said the trio committed the offence on August 18, 2013, at 3.00 a.m. at Unity Avenue, Ajah, Lagos.
She said that the trio threatened to use actual violence to steal from the victim, one Mr Thompson Shebi of his wristwatches worth N1.5 million, Computer gadgets and one IPad Samsung Tablet worthN350, 000.
Other items include a mobile phone worth N350, 000, the victim’s wife’s jewellery worth N1.5 million and a cash sum of N500, 000.
The prosecutor said the items the defendant attempted to steal were all valued at N4.2 million.
“In support of the charge, we tendered in exhibit a Cutlass, two live cartridges and confessional statements of the defendants.
“We are aware that this court is not bound by the plea bargain agreement.
“We, however, urge the court to accept same and make it the judgment of this court,” Aderele said.
She said the offence is punishable under Section 296 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
After the review of facts, counsel to the defendants, Mr Silvanus Okoli for the first defendant, Mrs Nonye Onyekwereju for the second defendant and Mrs J. I. Osagiede, all aligned to the submission of the prosecutor.
They urged the court to temper justice with mercy.