By Dayo Johnson, Akure
A Magistrates Court sitting in Akure, Ondo state, weekend, sentenced 17 suspected terrorists to five years in prison, for alleged conspiracy and illegal possession of firearms.
The driver of the bus, Abubakar Aliu and his conductor, Aruna Tukur, were also sentenced to four year imprisonments after being found guilty of illegal possession of firearms.
Other convicts include; Abdularasaq Idris, Rufai Nura, Sagri Musa, Imarana Bello, Tasiu Suliaman, Musa Bala, Saliu Saidu, Musur Adamu, Abduhlai Ibrahim, Imarana Yusuf, Abdulahi Mustafa, Haruna Tukur, Nura Saidu, Abubarka Aliu, and Mubarak Tsalhs.
The trail Magistrate, Damilola Sekoni, convicted the defendants after they were found guilty of two out of the three counts charges levelled against them.
Sekoni said ” I’m satisfied with that circumstantial evidence given, in the instances of the avalanche of evidence before me, all defendants were guilty of the first charge, the 11th and 13th defendant who are the driver and his conductor, were guilt of the second charge while all the defendants are aquitted of the count.
The trail Magistrate added that both sentences are to run concurrently without an option 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 arraigned by the men of the State Security Outfit, Codenamed ‘Amotekun, on three counts of conspiracy, illegal possession of firearms and wondering in public places.
Prosecuting counsel, Olusegun Akeredolu, told the court that the defendant was arrested on November 4, 2021, along Akure/ Ondo expressway by the men of the Amoteken Corps after their buses attempted to overrun the security agents and speed off.
Akeredolu said the defendant conspired to commit a felony.
The passengers were said to have conspired with the driver not to wait for the officers of the law when they were stopped at a checkpoint but instead sped off.
The Prosecutor added that the defendants were in posssesion of firearms without a valid license
They were also said to be found wondering on a public place at about 2a:m and under such circumstances that led to the conclusion that they were at the place for an illegal and disorderly purpose.
According to the charge, the offences contravene Section 516 and 260 of the Criminal Code Law of Ondo State, 2006 and Section 6(b) cap R11 Robbery and Firearms (special provision) Act, laws of the federation 2004.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge
The defence counsels, O.J. Emmanuel and P.O. Attah during the trial told the court that the defendants were innocent travellers that boarded a bus from a park in Katsina heading to Lagos.
Emmanuel, in his 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 for someone in Lagos.
He added that the defendants refused to wait when they were asked to stop by the security agents and had to be pursued from Akure to Ondo town.
The defendants in their evidence individually denied the ownership of the sack of weapons found inside the bus, insisting that they were just passengers.
They equally said that they thought thise that stopped them were armed robbers hence they took off without stopping.
The driver claimed that no gun was found in the bus and that the sacks containing knives and daggers were message given to him at the park in Katsina expected to be delivered to someone in Lagos.
He claimed that he did not bother to he k the content of the message.
Recall that 18 persons in a bus conveying weapons in Ondo town were arrested by the personel of Amotekun
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 one of the buses.
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 including the police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“The buses attempted to overrun the security agents and speed 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 at Owena and the security men there blocked the road.
Adeleye said that ” On getting there, they were able to escape by hitting the barricades again. “We continued pursue them while we called the Ile-Oluji junction, saying that they should block the road properly but the suspects also escaped. We now had a complete blockade before the Akure garage in Ondo town and there we were able to apprehend them.”