Lagos - A Lagos High Court in Ikeja on Thursday sentenced five policemen to 25 years imprisonment each for robbing a lorry loaded with textiles in Ikorodu, Lagos, in 2002.
Justice Joseph Oyewole convicted Bestman Denner (52), Musa Mohammed (45), Peter Enidiok (53), Godwin Williams (44) and Emmanuel Ajogbor (48) of conspiracy and robbery.
He said the sentence would start from March 3, 2005 when they were first remanded in prison custody.
"I hold that there is sufficient evidence to conspiracy as to commit robbery as charged.
"I hereby convict each of them accordingly," he said.
The judge said the fact the defendants were policemen was an "aggravating factor’’.
"I have duly considered the allocutus. However, the defendants are policemen trained to protect the public and not otherwise. This in itself is an aggravating factor.
"The defendants took advantage of their being members of the Nigeria Police Force to rob citizens.
"Using the police uniform to rob is a bad signal to the public because it will erode people's confidence on the police.
"The image of the police should not be dented to the extent that members of the public will begin to see police checkpoints as armed robbers' locations."
The prosecution had charged the policemen for robbing the lorry which was loaded with George and lace materials.
Mrs Patience Alu, the prosecutor, said the incident took place around 9 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2002 along the Ikorodu-Ijebu Ode Expressway, when the lorry was travelling to Benin with the goods.
Alu said the defendants mounted a roadblock on the road and ordered the driver of the lorry and his assistant to come down.
She said the defendants forcibly took the vehicle's keys and drove it away to an undisclosed location.
She said the occupants of the vehicle, Messrs Ogundare Sadiru and Peter Akpovile, later went to report the matter at the Igbogbo Police Station in Ikorodu.
She said the lorry was eventually found on Acme Road, Ikeja; Lagos, without any of the textile materials.
The prosecutor said some of the goods were later discovered in the house of one of the defendants during a search by the police.