Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of a Special Offences Court, has sentenced Udeme Upong, one of the co-defendants standing trial alongside convicted kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans to five years imprisonment.
The judge gave the verdict after the defendant changed his plea of not guilty to being guilty.
Udeme Frank Upong, and Evans, Joseph Ikenna Emeka, and Chiemeka Arinze were arraigned on a seven-count charge of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to kidnap and selling of firearms.
They were alleged to have attempted the kidnapping of Vincent Obianodo, chairman of the Young Shall Grow Motors.
At the last adjourned date, it was reported that one of the defendants, Chiemeka Arinze passed away on November 26 as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest caused by AIDS.
When the matter came up today, A. B. Josiah lawyer representing Udeme Frank Upon informed the court of his intention to change his plea.
Subsequently, the judge ordered the state counsel to review the fact of the case.
Reviewing the case, Dr Babjide Martins who led the prosecution team informed the court that Udeme Upon who originated from Itan-ikoronumu village in Ika LGA of Akwa Ibom State when he was arrested in related to this event made a statement, where he admitted to being involved in this matter having met the first defendant.
In the said statement, Upon said that he sold two AK 47 and two hundred and seventy live ammunition to the kidnap kingpin. He said he got the weapon from his village where they usually use it for inter-communal crises.
He said that they agreed to N400k for the two ammunition but the defendant paid him N200k while sending one Emeka to collect the ammunition.
Dr Martin’s told the court that the defendant’s statement has been admitted in evidence.
He told the court that the defendant was charged under firearm act Section 92 and punishable under Section B.
“Under the said law his five years imprisonment maximum.
“We are not aware of any of his previous convictions” he stressed
The state counsel urged the court to convict the defendant accordingly
Subsequently, the court found him guilty as charged while convicting the defendant.
In an allocutus plea, the defendant’s lawyer appeal to the court to consider the change of plea of the defendant as a remorseful act for not continuing to waste the time of the court and taxpayer money
Also, he urged the court to consider the fact that the defendant has been in detention since July 6, 2017, which is almost the length of his sentence.
He further appeals to the court to temper mercy and gives the defendant a lenient sentence as a first offender who has not been convicted before.
In his judgement, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo sentenced the defendant to five years imprisonment which reads from the date of his remand in prison on July 6, 2017.