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20 Jul 2017

Man acquitted after five years in prison for allegedly snatching handbag

Mudashiru Shefiu, a 27-year-old commercial motorcyclist, who has been in prison for five years for alleged handbag snatching, was on Thursday discharged and acquitted.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi of an Ikeja High Court, who set him free, noted that testimonies presented at the court failed to connect the accused to the crime.

Adebiyi said the sole prosecution witness, ASP Victor Aremu (PW1) and the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) failed in their testimonies to mention the alleged accomplices.

“In the evidence of PW1, who is the sole witness in this case, there were no mention of the alleged accomplices; his evidence can be circumstantial at best.

“PW1 gave no evidence of the items in question which were allegedly stolen, in his evidence; he talked about only one handbag and not two handbags as contained in the police statements.

“There was no evidence to show that the bags and recharge cards were indeed stolen by the defendant.

“The defendant, in his testimony, said that his confessional statement was obtained via torture.

“In this case, the statement is not consistent or corroborative with the other facts in the case,” she ruled.

Acquitting Shefiu, she said the prosecution failed ‘woefully’ to prove its case.

“The prosecution failed woefully to prove the essential ingredients in a charge of robbery beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted of the three-count charge of the offence proffered against him”.

Shefiu had a huge smile of relief when he heard the judgment and could not contain his excitement in the dock.

His lawyer, Mrs Y.A. Ajayi, thanked the court for the ‘well-considered judgment’.

According to Mrs O.A Olugasa, the state prosecutor, Shefiu and his accomplice, who is currently at large, allegedly committed the offence at 8.45 p.m. on June 7 at Chevron Roundabout, Ajah, Lagos.

“While on a motorcycle, the men snatched a handbag from Mr Paul Essien which contained different types of mobile phone recharge cards valued at N157,400.

“At the same time, they also robbed Mr Barinaabie Baridam of his handbag containing recharge cards of various mobile phone networks valued at N69,100”.

Aremu, the sole witness and IPO in the case, had testified in the trial that police at Chevron Police Station that they received a distress call on the day.

He said the caller informed the police that a robber was caught by members of the public.

The policeman told the court that when he went to the scene of the crime, he saw Shefiu sitting on the ground with a car tyre around his neck about to be lynched by the mob.

He said he had to quickly rescue the commercial motorcyclist as well as his motorcycle from the mob and took him to the police station.

The prosecution, after Aremu’s testimony, did not present additional witnesses during the trial.

The offences contravened Sections 295 (1) and 297 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.

- NAN

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