Two trans-border cattle rustlers – Muhammed Lawal Jauro and Yusuf Sanni – have been sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was passed by a Kogi High Court sitting in Okene yesterday.
Justice Josiah Majebi found them guilty of cattle rustling and culpable homicide.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Lawal and Sanni were arraigned on a three-count charge of criminal conspiracy, armed robbery and culpable homicide, contrary to various sections of the Penal Code.
During the trial, the prosecution had told the court that sometimes in January 2016, one Dauda Abdullahi made a report of a horrendous murder and theft of cows, belonging to one Haruna, in one of the farm centres in Okene.
Upon investigation, the accused persons were arrested at Ajase-Ipo in Kwara State, while their leader, Awaijo Wetti, fled and was still at large.
In addition, the prosecution submitted that the suspects, who had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, later pleaded guilty.
Jauro was quoted in his statement by the prosecution that in December, 2015, one of his friends, Yusuf, a resident of Kabba junction, Zariagi, called him on phone to inform him that there were cows belonging to one Haruna, at a bush in Okene.
“He further suggested that we should go and steal the cows. After that, our leader, by name Agwaijo Wetti, a resident of Tyre village along Okene-Auchi road, asked us to meet at the bush of Okene, which we did.
“Myself, Yusuf, Ado and our leader, Agwaijo Wetti, gathered and, with our cutlasses, went to meet the owner of the cows and all of us machete him with cutlasses until he died.
“Three of us then took control of the cows and took them to Ajase-Ipo in Kwara state,” Jauro was further quoted as saying.
Justice Majebi, in his judgment asserted that the confessions of the accused persons were weighty and admissible in ascertaining the case against them.
“The confessions of the respective accused persons are graphic, direct and the accused persons stated that after killing the deceased Haruna, they went with his cows to Ajase-Ipo where they were arrested and the cows were recovered in the bush where they kept them.”
Majebi stated that the ‘not guilty’ plea by the accused during the trial could not be substantiated because the accused has already admitted to committing the offense in their respective statements and that admission was clear, specific and unambiguous.
Hence, to believe their plea of not guilty, the jurist said “is to believe the holiness of a Bishop hanging a talisman on his neck.’’
According to him, the prosecution had satisfactorily established that the death of the deceased was caused by the convicts as there was “a nexus between the acts of the accused persons and the death of the deceased.”
On the first three charges, the judge sentenced them to 28 years each. The fourth charge was culpable homicide and they were sentenced to death by hanging.