Justice Theresa Igoche of the Makurdi High Court, on Tuesday sentenced two students, Vershima Kaachi and Akaazua Akpen, to death by firing squad for armed robbery.
The convicts were arrested on the eve of Christmas in 2007 for criminal conspiracy and armed robbery, contrary to Sections 5(b) and 1(2) of the Robbery and Firearms Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
In his testimony, the victim of the offence, Jonathan Usenge, told the court that five armed men came to his house, attacked and robbed him of some valuable items on that day.
He stated that the robbers collected his Nokia 1600 phone valued N12,700.00, two torch lights valued N350.00 and a sum of N16,500.
He said the convicts were armed with guns and a hacksaw, and that the clothes they wore on the day of the robbery, his stolen phone and the hacksaw were recovered from them during police investigation.
The prosecution called three witnesses while the accused persons testified for themselves and also called three witnesses.
In his submission, counsel to the convicts, Mr Cletus Ujah, argued that the prosecuting counsel had not proved the allegation against his clients beyond reasonable doubt.
Ujah insisted that the victim was inconsistent in his testimony, arguing that the prosecution’s evidence could not be said to be overwhelming to nail his clients.
He further argued that the prosecution failed to tender the hacksaw claimed to have been recovered from his clients before the court which, he said, amounted to withholding evidence.
But the prosecuting counsel, Mr Obande Idikwu, argued that the prosecution had made a case to warrant the conviction of the accused persons.
Idikwu submitted that from the evidence, it could be deduced that there was an agreement to commit an illegal act, which was pursued to a logical conclusion.
Delivering judgment, Igoche held that the prosecution had proved its case against the convicts and found them guilty as charged.
In an allocutus, Ujah pleaded for leniency for the accused persons, pointing out that they were each the only sons of their parents and young boys with a promising future ahead of them, noting that they had no records of previous conviction and were looking very remorseful, and urged the court to temper justice with mercy.
But the judge said the punishment prescribed for offenders under Section 1(2) of the Robbery and Firearms Act was death by either hanging or firing squad, pointing out that it was subject to the governor’s discretion.