Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Court jails northern travellers caught with firearms, daggers, knives in Ondo

Abubakar Aliu and Aruna Tukur were sentenced at the weekend by a Chief Magistrates’ Court sitting in Akure, the capital of Ondo.

• April 2, 2023
Amotekun used to illustrate the story

A commercial driver of northern descent and his conductor, who were suspected to be ‘terrorists’ have been jailed for five years in Ondo. 

Abubakar Aliu and Aruna Tukur were sentenced at the weekend by a Chief Magistrates’ Court sitting in Akure, the capital of Ondo.

The duo were among 11 other northerners passengers convicted by the Magistrates’ Court for illegal possession of firearms and conspiracy. 

Other convicts are; Abdularasaq Idris, Rufai Nura, Sagri Musa, Imarana Bello, Tasiu Suliaman, Musa Bala, Saliu Saidu, Musur Adamu, Abduhlai Ibrahim, Imarana Yusuf, Abdulahi Mustafa, and Mubarak Tsalhs.

Damilola Sekoni, the Chief Magistrates, who ruled on the case, said that the defendants were all found guilty of two out of the three counts levelled against them before the court. 

Mr Sekoni explained that his ruling was based on the ‘circumstantial evidence’ presented before the court by the prosecution during trials. 

“In the instances of the avalanche of evidence before me, all the defendants were guilty of the first charge.

“The 11th and 13th defendants who are the driver and his conductor were guilty of the second charge,” he said. 

According to the Magistrate, both sentences are to run concurrently without the option of a fine.

Mr Sekoni also condemned the action of the defendants while adding that “the judgement would serve as a deterrent to those who would want to indulge in such an act.”

State security outfit, Amotekun Corps, had dragged all the defendants before the Magistrates’ court on three counts of conspiracy, illegal possession of firearms, and wandering in public places.

Segun Akeredolu, the prosecuting counsel, had told the court that the defendants were arrested on November 4, 2021, on the Akure/Ondo expressway by the operatives of the local security outfit. 

Mr Akeredolu also explained to the Magistrates’ court how the vehicle conveying the convicts refused to wait and sped off when flagged down for check by operatives of the Amotekun Corps while on transit through Ondo road. 

He added that the passengers conspired with the driver not to wait for operatives when they were asked to stop, stressing that he committed a felony by such action. 

“They were also found wandering in a public place at about 2 am and under such circumstances that led to the conclusion that they were at the place for an illegal and disorderly purpose,” the prosecuting lawyer added. 

He, however, noted that their offences contravene Sections 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.

When the case came up for mention at the weekend, the defendants pleaded not guilty.

Earlier during the trial, the duo of O.J Emmanuel and P.O Attah, who are both counsels to the defendants told the court that their clients were innocent travellers that boarded a bus from a park in Kaduna on transit to Lagos when they were apprehended. 

Mr Emmanuel particularly said that the driver (Aliu) of the bus knew nothing about the sack containing daggers found inside the bus.

He added that the sack was handed over to him as a message for someone in Lagos.

“The defendants in their evidence individually denied the ownership of the sack of weapons found inside the bus, as they were just passengers. 

“The driver claimed that no gun was found in the bus and he said the sacks containing knives and daggers were messages given to them at the park in Kaduna to be delivered to someone in Lagos and he did not bother to open the content of the message,” he added. 

In November 2021, operatives of the Amotekun Corps intercepted a bus loaded with 500 pieces of daggers concealed under the seats.

Different sizes of knives and guns hidden inside the tiger nut bags were also recovered from the suspects who were totaling 18 and were inside the vehicle. 

Adetunji Adeleye, Commander of the Amotekun Corps, who paraded them before reporters in Akure, shortly after they were arrested had explained that three buses conveying the travellers escaped from checkpoints in the state but one of them was intercepted 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,” he explained.

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