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Monday, 17 September 2018

2 Evans’ former gang members bag 41 years for armed robbery, kidnapping

2 Evans’ former gang members bag 41 years for armed robbery, kidnapping

Two former gang-members of the notorious kidnap Kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans have been sentenced to 41 years in prison for kidnapping and armed robbery by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos.

The convicts: Kelvin Emenike Ukoh, 32 and Emeka Obasi, 33 were jailed for the kidnap of one Mr Ugoje Jude, a shipping agent, and his staff, Miss Piriye Gogo on August 3, 2012 at about 9pm, which Evans also reportedly participated in.

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Recalls that a 34-year-old Director with Ocean Glory, Paul Cole, who hails from Ohafia in Abia State, was reportedly kidnapped on August 3rd, 2012, at Festac Town, together with his General Manager, Jude Ugoje, and another staff, Piriye Gogo, and taken to an unknown destination by Evans.

The abductors initially demanded a N10M ransom but later collected N5m on August 6th, 2012, after negotiations, at Maza-maza, before letting their victim off the hook.

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, Miss 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 menstrual period which was flowing at the time.

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.

“It was as though all pleas fail on deaf ears, I had to insert my hand into my vagina just to show him. The blood I showed him prevented him from raping me. It was a terrible experience.

“After that, he asked if I understand Igbo language and the tribe we come from. We replied by saying Isoko and Ijaw respectively. He thereafter asked whether Mr Jude was the owner of the company. And I replied that we were just clearing agents. They also seized our mobile phones, pieces of jewelry and monies.

“They blindfolded Mr Jude, brought him back into the car, asked me to face down with my eyes closed, and then drove off to another location. They spoke igbo almost all the time so I could barely understand what they were saying or taking us to.

“While driving off to the other location, they asked if I could drive, I said no. So they dropped down from the car and took Mr Jude with them. They ordered me to face down and not look at their faces or I will be shot dead. They abandoned me and the Honda pilot car at 2nd alongside Expressway, where I waited until I saw a police patrol and flagged them.

“I narrated what happened to them and the immediately radioed Festac Police station,” she said.

Mr Jude, who also testified before the court, said that his abductors initially ordered him to pay N10m for his release but after much negotiations, they collected N5m.

However, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo convicted and sentenced Ukoh and Obasi to 5, 15 and 21 years for conspiracy, kidnapping and armed robbery respectively, the other three were discharged and acquitted by court.

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Justice Taiwo 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.

The judge also noted that the prosecution could not present any evidence of murder as charged against all the defendants, aside their confessional statements.

While Igbani and Osuagwu claimed they were arrested on their way to work, Ngozi said that Udoh, her brother’s friend, brought police to her house to arrest her brother, who was at large but now deceased.

Ngozi claimed that when the police couldn’t find her brother, she was arrested instead.

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