An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Wednesday sentenced to death, three men who kidnapped a Lagos monarch and killed his palace guard.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo sentenced Duba Fureso, Reuben Anthony and Yerin Fresh, who kidnapped the Oniba of Iba, Oba Oseni Goriola, murdered his 72-year-old palace guard, Mr Sunday Okanlawon, and attempted to murder the monarch’s wife, Bosede.
The convicts also murdered a motorcyclist, Mr Joseph Okeke.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Taiwo sentenced the convicts to death for murder, life sentence for attempted murder, and 21 years’ imprisonment for kidnap.
The judge also sentenced them to various prison terms for conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery that occurred when they kidnapped the royal father on July 16, 2016.
Justice Taiwo said that the stiff sentences should serve as deterrent to others.
“The prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and established the ingredients of all the offences. I find the defendants guilty as charged.
“A clear message should be sent to kidnappers and murderers. Their victims and their families are usually very traumatised, and the families are usually asked to pay very high ransoms.
“For the offence of conspiracy to commit murder, the defendants are each sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment; the defendants are sentenced to death for the murder of Okanlawon and Okeke.
“For the offence of attempt to murder, the defendants are sentenced to life imprisonment – for the shooting Olori Bosede Goriola,’’ the judge held.
Justice Taiwo also sentenced each of them to 10 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
“For the offence of armed robbery, the defendants are each sentenced to life imprisonment; for the offence of conspiracy to kidnap, each of the defendants is sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
“The defendants are each sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment for the offence of kidnapping. The sentences are to run concurrently,” she held.
Miss Titilayo Shitta-Bey, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Justice and lead prosecutor, had submitted that the convicts and others still at large, committed the offences on July 16, 2016 at 6.00p.m. at the palace of the monarch in Iba, Lagos.
According to her, the convicts, while armed with guns, stormed the palace to abduct the monarch.
She said that during the abduction, the assailants, shot the queen, who tried to stop them, in the abdomen.
“The assailants fired several shots into the air; Okanlawon and Okeke were shot dead by the convicts.
“The Oba was taken via a boat to the kidnappers’ camp and a ransom demand of N500 million was made to his family; it was negotiated and N15.1million ransom was paid.
“The Oba spent three weeks with his abductors,” she said.
The kidnappers were, however, apprehended by members of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
During the trial, seven witnesses testified for the prosecution, including the monarch and his wife, his son, two medical doctors and two police officers.
The defendants – Fureso, a timber contractor; Fresh, a fisherman, and Reuben, a timber contractor, testified for defence, denying committing the offences.
Earlier before Justice Taiwo passed the sentences, defence counsel, Mr G. O. Eguaroje, pleaded for leniency for the convicts.
“They are first-time offenders and are all family men. We shall plead to your lordship to be lenient with them and not sentence them to death.
“Finally, we shall try to exercise our right to appeal,” Eguaroje said.
However, Shitta-Bey asked the judge to impose the stiffest sentences to serve as a deterrent to such crimes.
“I urge the honourable court to impose the maximum sentences prescribed for the offences in law.
“The heinous crime of kidnapping does not only terrorise the victim, it terrorises the society; nobody is safe.
“A clear statement should be made that Lagos State has zero tolerance for kidnappers, murderers and robbers,” she said.