Justice Mobolanle Okikiolu-Ighile on Wednesday sentenced three men: Monday Abdul, Mohammed Dungu and Mohammed Isah, to 14 years jail term each for attempted robbery.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the defendants, Abdul, 34; Dungu, 33; and Isah, 29, were first arraigned on August 29, 2013.
They had all pleaded not guilty to a count charge of attempted robbery, following which they were remanded in custody.
The case went on trial, whereby the prosecution called up three witnesses.
But on Wednesday they were re-arraigned and changed their pleas of not guilty to guilty.
Okikiolu-Ighile, however, sentenced them after the Lagos State Prosecutor, T. A. Aderele, had reviewed the facts of the case.
They had, through their lawyers, brought a plea bargain agreement, urging the court to accept the terms of the agreement and make it the judgment of the court.
Okikiolu-Ighile asked the defendants if they were forced or threatened to make the plea bargain agreement.
The convicts replied that they understood the terms of the plea bargain agreement and were not forced or threatened to make the agreement.
Okikiolu-Ighile then held that in view of Section 76 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, 2011, the court has ascertained from the defendants that they entered into the plea bargain agreement on their own free volition.
The judge said: “In the light of the defendants’ plea, I have taken into consideration the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, and I have considered the voluntariness established by the defendants in court.
“I find each of the defendants guilty as charged.
“In sentencing, I have looked deeply into the plea bargain agreement, and I am satisfied that they understood why they pleaded guilty.
“Accordingly, having been found guilty of the charge, I hereby sentence you to 14 years imprisonment each starting from the date of remand, which is August 29, 2013.
“They are to be returned to the Kirikiri Correctional Centre to complete their sentences.
“This is a second chance; you should go and make yourselves useful to the society.”
Aderele had told the court that the facts were as stated in the charges.
The prosecutor said the trio committed the offence on August 18, 2013 at 3am at Unity Avenue, Ajah, Lagos.
She said the trio threatened to use actual violence to steal from the victim, Thompson Shebi, of his wristwatches worth N1.5 million, computer gadgets and one Samsung tablet worth N350,000.
Other items include: a mobile phone worth N350,000, the victim’s wife’s jewellery worth N1.5 million and a cash sum of N500,000.
She said that the items, which the defendants attempted to steal, were all valued at N4.2 million.
Aderele said: “In support of the charges, we tendered in exhibit a cutlass, two live cartridges and confessional statements of the defendants.
“We are aware that this court is not bound by the plea bargain agreement.
“We, however, urge the court to accept same and make it the judgment of this court.”
She said the offence contravened Section 296 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
After review of the facts, Silvanus Okoli, counsel for the first defendant; Nonye Onyekwereju, for the second defendant; and J. I. Osagiede, for the third defendant, all aligned to the submission of the prosecutor.
They urged the court to temper justice with mercy.