Night Nigerians have joined the death row in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after a court in Sharjah sentenced them to death for a string of armed robberies at money exchanges and cash machines across the emirate in December 2016.
A ninth man was sentenced to six months imprisonment for being in possession of stolen money.
He is expected to be deported after serving his sentence, according to Gulf News.
The convicts were not named but the newspaper said a total of 20 suspects were originally arrested for attacking security guards in four violent attacks at ATMs and money exchanges across Sharjah in late 2016.
They threatened and assaulted staff and members of the public with bladed weapons in a spate of robberies, three of which were carried out on December 18, 2016.
The gang — who were all in the UAE on visit visas — were said to be highly organised and plotted a string of orchestrated attacks to ambush security trucks that were transporting money boxes to and from ATMs, and at least one money exchange in Sharjah.
The first robbery took place at a Dubai Commercial Bank ATM on King Abdul Aziz Street where Dh340,000 was stolen, then two days later they attacked an ATM in Al Safeer Mall in Al Nahda fleeing with Dh700,000, and an ATM in Muweilah where they stole Dh710,000. A fourth attack at a money exchange office near National Paints was foiled by police.
The police were able to recognise the suspects through surveillance footage captured at the exchange house in the mall.
Video footage showed the convicts attacking security guards, making off with cash, and in one of the robberies slashing the hands of a security guard with a knife before running away with money boxes.
Reacting to the death sentence passed on the eight Nigerians yesterday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, described it as unfortunate.
In a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday, the presidential aide said the incident was not an actual description of the personalities of the people of Nigeria.
She said: “It is an unfortunate incident, but it is not an incident that defines who we are as a people.
”If a few Nigerians have committed a crime for which they are being punished, thousands of Nigerians are doing great in that same country and are being appreciated and celebrated.
”Mr President who meets Nigerians every time he goes on official trips outside the country always appeals to them to be good ambassadors wherever they are.
”I must commend millions of our brothers and sisters excelling all over the world.
“Bad news travels fast, and I appeal to the media to help spread the good news about Nigerians and not concentrate only on the once-in-a-while negative stories.”
All the convicted Nigerians were not identified by both the Gulf News and Khaleej Times, both UAE local newspapers, which reported the trial.
A total of 20 suspects were initially held for attacking security guards in four violent attacks at ATMs and money exchanges across Sharjah in late 2016.
Out of the suspects, nine were convicted.
The verdict was handed down by Judge Majid Al Muhairi of Sharjah Criminal Court on Wednesday.
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