Justice Isiaka Adeleke of an Osun High Court sitting in Ilesa on Tuesday, convicted and sentenced two members of a vigilance group, 42-year-old Olabisi Olajuwon, and Kayode Opeolu, 55, to 21 years imprisonment each, without an option of fine, for killing two students of the Osun State Polytechnic, Iree.
The judgement came eleven years after the convicts were arraigned in court by the police in 2006.
Olajuwon and Opeolu were slammed with a three count-charge bearing on conspiracy, attempted murder and murder; to which they pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution team from the Osun State Ministry of Justice, led by the Attorney General and commissioner for Justice, Dr. Ajibola Basiru, and Chief State Counsel, Rachel Ojimi, informed the court that the offence contravened Sections 324, 320 and 319 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Osun, 2003.
Ajibola had argued before the court that the convicts committed the offence on September 24, 2006 around 1:30am at Eripa/Otan Ayegbaju towns.
During hearing, the convicts had claimed to be vigilantes and revealed that they had stopped the motorcycle carrying the victims, Omotayo Ogunlaja, Bashiru Saheed and Oluwole Segun, who were on their way to Ada.
The vigilantes accused one of the students, Omotayo Ogunlaja, of being one of the cultists terrorising the community. It was further disclosed that the three students were driven in a van to a bush along Eripa/Otan-Ayegbaju road, where their hands were tied behind them.
The prosecution argued that each of the students was shot by the vigilantes, but they did not die. Omotayo was said to have feigned death and was pushed into a nearby ditch by the vigilantes.
According to the prosecutor, the other two students were shot dead while one of them was beheaded. It was further claimed that the convicts swore to an oath not to reveal their act and if anyone of them was caught, no name should not be mentioned.
Omotaya was said to have crawled out of the ditch he was thrown into in the early hours of September 25, 2006 before he staggered to a nearby hospital, where he was treated and later revealed how his mates were murdered.
After Omotayo revealed his ordeal and that of his colleagues to the police, the vigilantes were apprehended.
Five prosecuting witnesses had testified against the vigilantes in court during the hearing.
In the course of the trial, one of the vigilantes, Wemimo Adewale, died in prison custody and the court struck out his name from the charge.
Upon prosecution’s argument, Justice Adeleke found the accused persons guilty and convicted them accordingly.
But counsel to the convicts, Mr. Julius Akhigbe, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy in punishing them, saying that they had regretted their actions.
Delivering his judgement, Justice Adeleke stated that from the evidence before the court, the case had been proved beyond reasonable doubt against the convicts.
Consequently, the judge sentenced each of the convicts to 21 years imprisonment with hard labour.
He declared that the term would start counting beginning from Tuesday, 20th December, 2017.