After six years of trial, an Ikeja High Court on Monday sentenced a kidnapper, Emeka Obasim to 42 years imprisonment for the kidnap of Jude Ugoje and Miss Piriye Ogogo.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo handed down the sentence after finding the convict guilty of three count charge out of the 12-count charges preferred against him by Lagos state government.
Emeka Obasim, 33, was convicted on three-count charges bordering on Kidnapping, Conspiracy and Armed robbery, contrary to sections 231, 221 and 269 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
He was arraigned alongside four other defendants before the court six years ago on a 12-count bordering on Kidnapping, Murder, Conspiracy, Armed robbery, sexually molestation.
The other defendants charged with Obasim are: Kelvin Emenike Ukoh 32, Uche Ubani 28, Chibuzor Osuagwu 29, Onowu Nzozi 37.
In her judgment Justice Taiwo discharged the convict and three others of the charge of murder however found him guilty of the kidnap, conspiracy and armed robbery charges.
According to the judge, the court is of the opinion that the fourth defendant, Emeka Obasim and the 1st defendant who is now at large are part of the kidnap gang.
“I hereby convict the defendant, Emeka Obasim of three count charge of kidnap, Conspiracy and armed robbery.
“For the kidnap charge, he is sentenced to 16 years imprisonment, conspiracy 5-years and Armed Robbery 21 years. The sentences will run concurrently”, she said.
The judge also ordered the counsel to present the 1st defendant, Ukoh, who is currently at large for sentencing whenever he is arrested.
She however discharged and acquainted Kelvin Emenike, Uche Ubani and Onowu Nzozi of the charges.
Justice Taiwo warned the trio that was discharged to desist from the crime; else they find themselves in court again.
“You might not be this lucky the next time, so run away from crime”, she said.
Earlier, the prosecution team led by Mrs K.O Sarumi had told the court that the convict and other defendants committed the crime in August, 2012 at about 8pmin Festac Town in Lagos.
Sarumi said they kidnapped one Mr Jude Ugoji and his colleague Piriye Ogogo after the close of the day’s work.
Jude who was the first prosecution witness had narrated to the court how he was kidnapped.
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“I was attacked on my way back from work when I pulled over to drop -off my colleague who usually join me on my way home.
“I was attacked by armed men and taken to an uncompleted building in an unknown place.
They blind folded me while I was being taken away. They also asked me for the contact of someone that can pay for my ransom.
“I gave them the phone number of my MD, and they demanded the sum of N10 million from him, and after much negotiations, they agreed to collect the sum of N5 million which was paid to them.
“The ransom was paid by my MD’s brother Paul Cole.
Another Victim Piriye, who also gave evidence before the court said she was in the same car with Jude when he was kidnapped and one of the kidnappers, the fourth defendant molested her by fondling her breasts and he only left her when she told him that she was on her menstruation and have to dip her finger into her pants to show him the blood.
Piriye further told the court that the gang also took away her belongings including her phone, salary, jewelries and her handbag.
While pleading for leniency, the defence prayed the court to tamper justice with mercy and pass a light sentence on him.
“My lord, he is a young man, he has learnt his lessons, he has been in detention for over five years, we urge my Lord to show him mercy,” he said.
Author: Adebisi Onanuga