by Zara Mustapha
A pastor, Adeniyi Mattew, an evangelist, Akeem Benjamin and two others have been sentenced to death by hanging at a high court sitting in Olokuta Prison, Akure, Ondo State for robbing a commercial bank nine years ago.
The bank claimed that up to N26 million was taken away by the convicts during the robbery incident.
The two other convicts are Cosmos Obi, a business man from Delta State and Sherif Ogunleye, an apprentice radiator technician.
The trial Judge, Justice David Kolawole, while delivering judgment, found the convicts guilty of the charges against them based on sufficient evidence established by the prosecuting police witness, Abimbola Olayiwola.
At the commencement of the trial in 2013, eight suspects were docked but one of them, Johnson Olanrewaju, escaped during the 2011 jailbreak at Akure Prison.
Seven others stood trial for conspiracy to commit armed robbery and committing robbery by robbing NBM Bank, Akure now Sterling Bank, on July 2005.
During the trial, three of the suspects were discharged and acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence.
When the charges were read to them they pleaded not guilty individually.
The prosecutor, during the trial, called one witness, Police Inspector Olayiwola, attached to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Force CID Annex, Lagos while the suspects testified for themselves.
Police Inspector Olayiwola said the suspects on the night of June 2, 2005 robbed a branch of the NBM Bank, Akure and that the bank said N26 million was carted away during the robbery.
How they were nabbed
According to him, nemesis caught up with the evangelist when detectives in Ibadan arrested him for being in possession of over N825,000 in NBM Bank wrappers.
He added that upon the information, detectives went to Ibadan and took over the investigation which led to the arrest of five more suspects linked to the Akure robbery.
Some of the suspects were also picked up in Abeokuta by the Police detectives and a sum of N1million was said to have been found in the house of one of them, Obi Cosmos.
Olayiwola said that the suspects, on that day, robbed two banks, Union and NBM.
Justice Kolawole in his judgment said: “At the end of the exercise, I found the defendants guilty.
“The corroborative evidence came mainly from the investigation conducted by the Police that include the recovery of money, vehicle and admissions contained in the video recording of the visit to the place of crime by the Police and the defendants.
He said the four defendants were convicted as charged.
“In view of this, Pastor Adeniyi Matthew, Akeem Benjamin, Cosmos Obi and Sherif Ogunleye are each sentenced to death by hanging on the neck until they be dead,” the court declared.
It would be recalled that after the robbery, the pastor and the evangelist went to establish a big church, bought a bus, a big generator and equipped the church from the bank robbery proceeds until the long arm of the law caught up with them.