…I raised $1m to rescue my brother –Witness
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos, yesterday sentenced two gang members of the notorious kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike alias Evans, to 41 years in prison each for kidnapping and armed robbery. Also at another court, a witness, Edwin Uduji, an elder brother to a businessman, James Uduji, who was allegedly kidnapped by Evans and his gang, yesterday told Justice Adedayo Akintoye that he was able to raise the $1 million ransom demanded by the abductors through his business associates.
The convicts – Kelvin Emenike Ukoh (32) and Emeka Obasi (33) – were jailed for the kidnap of Mr. Ugoje Jude, a shipping agent, and Miss Piriye Gogo, on August 3, 2012 about 9p.m., which Evans also reportedly participated in.
On August 3, 2012, the gang abducted a 34-year-old Director with Ocean Glory, Paul Cole, who hails from Ohafia in Abia State, at Festac Town, alongside his General Manager, Jude, and Gogo, and taken to an unknown destination by Evans.
The abductors initially demanded N10 million but later collected N5 million on August 6, 2012, after negotiations at Maza-Maza, before freeing their victims. But the police later arrested the two convicts and arraigned them sometime in 2013 alongside three others – Uche Igbani (28), Chibuzor Osuagwu (33) and a 36-year-old woman, Onowu Ngozi – on a 14-count charge bothering on conspiracy, kidnapping, armed robbery and murder. The state prosecuting counsel, Mrs. K. O. Sarumi, told the court that the convicts abducted the victims at gunpoint at Alakija into 7th Avenue, while driving home in a Honda Pilot car and took them to an unidentified location.
However, narrating her ordeal, Gogo had earlier told the court that three men accosted them with rifles on their way home and was almost raped inside the car, but was saved by her monthly menstruation.
Gogo, during her evidence- in-chief, said that during the abduction, one of the kidnappers, Obasi, came into the car, after dragging her boss out for negotiation at an undisclosed location, and started fondling her breast. She said: “He came into the car, tore my clothes, pulled down a side of my bra and began caressing my breast. He thereafter started dragging down my shirt and I began begging him.
I begged him until I had nothing else I could plead with. I begged him intensely for mercy and even told him that I was menstruating.” However, Justice Taiwo convicted and sentenced Ukoh and Obasi to 5, 15 and 21 years for conspiracy, kidnapping and armed robbery respectively. But the court discharged and acquitted the three others.
The judge said that the prosecution could not prove beyond reasonable doubt the nexus linking the other three – Igbani, Osuagwu, Ngozi – to the alleged charges of murder, conspiracy, kidnapping and armed robbery. M e a n – while, Edwin told Justice Akintoye of a Lagos High Court, Igbosere, that he was the one who coordinated the raising of the $1 million ransom which was paid in two tranches of $200,000 and $800,000. Edwin, in his evidencein- chief, added that the kidnappers told him specifically that they wanted the ransom in new and genuine $100 denomination otherwise he should be ready to pay $10,000 for every fake $100.
He said: “About one hour after my younger brother was kidnapped, my elder brother, Sir Uche Uduji, telephoned me to break the news to me at about 6pm on 7 September, 2015. I immediately drove to the police station in Festc, where I lodged a complaint about 7p.m.” Earlier in Monday’s proceedings, the victim’s driver, Donatus Nwoye, had while testifying pulled off his top to show Akintoye the scar of the bullet wound he sustained in the attack. Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned till October 4. Evans is facing two different charges bordering on kidnapping and attempted murder slammed on him and four others by the Lagos State government.
In one of the charges, the state slammed five counts of conspiracy to kidnapping, kidnapping and attempted murder on Evans, Joseph Ikenna Emeka, Victor Aduba and Okpara Linus.
The offences were contrary to Sections 411 and 230 of Criminal Law Cap C 17, Vol. 13 of Lagos State 2015. The second charge involves Evans, Joseph Ikenna Emeka, Ugochukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba. They are facing two-count charge of conspiracy to kidnapping and kidnapping contrary to Sections 411 and 271 (3) Cap C17, Vol 3 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015.
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