A Self-styled Businessman has been sentenced to twenty-five (25) years in prison with hard labour by a Circuit Court in Accra for robbery.
The Convict, Chukwudi Ukala and his two accomplices who are on the run robbed one Jato Peter and Shamsudeen Mohammed of a Sony laptop, five mobile phones and recharge phone cards, all valued at GHÈ»4,900.00 cedis and cash of GHÈ»22,000.00.
The accused when arraigned before court on August 2015, was charged with conspiracy and robbery respectively but he denied the charges preferred against him by the Prosecution in both his preliminary statement and evidence-in-chief.
After an eight month trial, the court found the accused guilty of robbery but acquitted and discharged the Accused for the offence of conspiracy since he could not conspire with himself to commit a crime.
Pronouncing judgment, the presiding judge, His Honour, Aboagye Tandoh asserted that the Prosecution established sufficient evidence against the Convict that he indeed committed the offence of robbery.
In sentencing, the court took into consideration the Convict’s plea for mitigation and the fact that he was in custody whilst the case was being tried. The Presiding Judge accordingly sentenced him to twenty-five (25) years in prison with hard labour, stating that the conduct of the Convict warranted a deterrent sentence to signal that the society wouldn’t tolerate robbery.
Background to the Case
Narrating the facts of the case, the Prosecutor, DSP Kwaku Bempah told the court that the first and second Complainants are Senior High School graduates who live at Haatso while the Accused, Chukwudi Okala who is also known in UK as a self-styled businessman and resides at Koforidua Osabena. He added that the first Complainant’s brother, David Jato owns a mobile money vending shop called Winners Multimedia which is manned by the first Complainant.
The Prosecutor said that on the 21st of August, 2015, at about 5:30pm, the Accused visited the shop and withdrew GH 800.00 cedis from his MTN mobile money account, adding that it was the first Complainant who attended to him. On that same day, around 8:50pm, while both Complainants were at the shop, the Accused came to the shop again and indicated to the first Complainant that he wanted to withdraw GHÈ»500.00 from the same account. He reiterated that the first Complainant put in the request but the transaction was aborted.
DSP Bempah further stated that the Accused stood at the main entrance of the shop and beckoned some people. He continued that suddenly, two men who were armed with a pistol and knife entered the shop and ordered the Complainants to freeze, lie on the ground and keep mute, adding that the Accused stood at the main entrance observing the movements of people who could thwart their operation while his accomplices attacked the Complainants.
‘One of the assailants, who was armed with a knife, held the throat of the second Complainant without any justification and also stabbed the first Complainant with the knife which got stuck in his hand until the first Complainant forcibly removed the knife himself. The assailants took the weapons from the Complainant, together with cash of GHÈ»22,000.00 including GHÈ»2,000.00 which had been brought by the second Complainant to be deposited’, Prosecution stated.
The Police Officer also indicated that after the operation, the attackers ordered the first Complainant to hand over the shop’s keys to them, adding that the first Complainant showed them the place where he normally hangthe keys but the attackers could not find it there but rather found the keys under the counter. Prosecution said that this infuriated one of the assailants who was armed with a knife causing him to inflict severe wounds on the first Complainant’s face.
DSP Bempah also informed the court that the Accused and his accomplices afterwards, locked the Complainants in the shop and escaped with their booty on a waiting motorbike, stating that David Jato , owner of the vending shop who also happened to be the brother of the first Complainant alerted the MTN office and gave the Accused person’s MTN account to them.
The Prosecutor narrated that the MTN office temporarily suspended the Accused person’s MTN account to pave way for investigations, adding that on the 24th of August, 2015, the Accused visited the Koforidua MTN office to re-activate his account. ‘The Complainants were alerted and with the assistance of the Police, the Accused was arrested. The Accused was identified by the Complainants as the person who masterminded the crime, hence charged with the offence of robbery’, Prosecution stated.