A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, has sentenced four men to death by hanging for armed robbery and kidnapping of the younger sister to Emzor Pharmaceutical Managing Director, Chief Ebuka Okafor, Mrs. Gloria Emole.
The convicts are Victor Chukwunonso, Ifeanyi Maduaka, Obinna Nwankwo, and Richard Nwabueze.
Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo held that the prosecution was able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The first convict Chukwunoso was a former employee of the victim’s elder brother, he was sacked after he fought in the company against the rule of the company that fighting was prohibited.
The convicts were arraigned on July 13, 2013, and were remanded in prison custody.
The convicts had on November 19, 2012, at about 8:30 am, committed the offences.
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The convicts were arraigned on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy, armed robbery, and kidnapping preferred against them by Lagos State.
The Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Dr. Babajide Martins had told the court during their arraignment that they had kidnapped the victim who was about to leave her house at 7, Unity Street, Ogudu GRA, Lagos.
DPP had told the court that the victim was kidnapped, blindfolded thrown inside the booth, and was driving to an unknown area in Ikorodu.
According to the Prosecutor, the offences committed are contrary to and Punishable Under sections 297,285 (2) a, and 291, of the Criminal laws of Lagos State 2015.
The victim was later released on November 22, 2012, after a ransom of $70,000 (Seventy Thousand US dollars) was paid, by her husband.
During the trial, the prosecution called four witnesses, who testified against the defendants.
The victim narrated to the court that she made a statement at the Police station and how the incident happened.
She said that on November 19, 2012, the first accused person held a double barrel, accosted her at about 8:30 am, blindfolded and locked her in her booth, and took her to an unknown destination.
She narrated that after the kidnap they demanded $300,000.
The victim’s husband Osodun Emole, in his testimony also told the court that he paid the first and second convicts the sum of $70,000 US dollars.
Emole said that they had initially asked for $300,000, but after negotiation, they accepted $70,000.
He stated that he put the money inside an envelope and he was instructed how he was to dress and where to drop the money.
Emole also told the court that it was the police that told him that the convicts had been arrested.
Inspector Gbenga Faguiro, who tendered nine exhibits, had also narrated that the first convict was arrested at Alapere Ketu and a Nokia phone was recovered from him.
Faguiro stated that the second convict was arrested after obtaining information from the first convict as well as others.
Faguiro who said he is attached to SARS Ikeja told the court that the first defendant was an employee of the victim’s elder brother before he was sacked over misconduct.
He said that the victim on 19 November 2012, at about 8:30 am, was about to leave her house at 7, Unity Street, Ogudu GRA, Lagos, when she gave the key to her security guard to open the gate and as she was about getting into the car, six gun men accosted her and immediately held her hostage.
The witness said that during the investigation, the first defendant told him that the victim’s elder brother was his boss and there is a laid down rule that they must not fight in his office, adding that he was sacked and his boss gave each of them N250,000.
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Faguiro stated that one of the defendants who engaged the police in a gun dwell during their arrest was shot dead.
He said Chukwunoso told him how they shared the $70,000. He said the first convict took $12,000, the second convict $11,000, the third convict collected $10,000 and the fourth convict received $9,000.
The convicts also gave evidence at the trial. Chukwunoso said he was an apprentice of Okafor and had not finished his apprenticeship before he was sacked.
Chukwunoso said he knew the victim as he had worked with her elder brother.
The second convict Maduka said he was not part of the team that rented the hotel at Ikorodu. The third and fourth convicts also testified before the court.
While delivering judgment, the judge held that he found that the offence of armed robbery has been established against the accused.
“The first convict was arrested after the IMEI no of the victim’s Nokia phone number which got lost was inserted in another phone and it brought out all the information after he was arrested he made a confessional statement that led to the arrest of 2nd convict.
” The provision of the law is that in the instant case, I have tested the statement and it passer all conditions. The confessional statement that the first defendant worked with the victim’s elder brother was collaborated by other witnesses.”