BY OKONKWO EZE
ONITSHA — An Onitsha High Court in Anambra State, presided over by Justice Chudi Nwankwo has adjourned till Thursday, December 19, the continuation of cross-examination of the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of G.U.O. Motors Limited, Chief Godwin Okeke, the first prosecution witness, PW1, in the on-going trial of three accused persons in connection with his kidnap on August 23,2009 at All Saints Anglican Church Cathedral, Onitsha.
The adjournment came after D. U. Nwafor, counsel to the second accused person, Ifeanyi Okafor, concluded his cross-examination on the complainant, Okeke, and midway into the cross-examination of Okeke by Mrs. Chinelo Okongwu, counsel to Alexander Onyinanya, the third accused person.
During the cross-examinations by the second and third defence counsel, Okeke noted that it was very difficult to track his kidnappers down after the incident, to the extent that the third accused person was arrested two years after because he was in hiding.
Police locked their gates
According to him, “None of them was arrested at the scene of the crime because their weapons were so sophisticated that they kept firing for 30 minutes and I later heard that even the policemen at the nearby CPS and Area Command locked up their gates for fear of being invaded by the kidnappers.
“I did not act as their pointer when they were arrested, rather, the police invited me to identify them which I did. In fact, most of them in the charge sheet No. MO/179c/2010 I identified them on the particular date they were arrested by the police.
“I made statements before they were arrested. I limited my statements to the general attitude of quite a good number of the accused persons because I could not know their names one by one.
“I can’t remember the particular statement I made on each date and the exact date I made them on the exact date the second defendant was arrested.
“Before my kidnap, I can’t remember knowing the accused, except the third defendant who served in my village at Adazi-Ani as a member of the vigilante group. He worked in my village for about a year before he was redeployed on my request because of his flamboyant life style. At the time I was kidnapped, he was no longer with me but he was still hanging around my village.
“I am not aware if there was any previous criminal charge against the third defendant but I learnt he ran away from South Africa for one reason or the other best known to him. In my statement, I did say that only two of my kidnappers covered their faces with masks while I was with them in their hideouts.
“I made a statement of suspicion to his employer and leader of the vigilante group but I made a general statement to the police. I made a statement tothe police in Onitsha before their arrests and after their arrests, I made other statements. to the police but I don’t have their dates off head.
“Even as at January 2010 when I made statement to the police, I was still in shock but now that it is four years after my kidnap and torture, I rely more on my evidence-in-chief in this court because they are more detailed than the statements I made to the police then.
“One of the kidnappers, Emeka Eze, who had jumped bail, made in his statement to the police that they collected N38 million as ransom from my family, but my wife told me it was N30 million they collected from them.
“The confessional statement of Emeka Eze on how they shared my ransom money was televised in national televisions.
“Some of my kidnappers are still on the run and I pray that I catch them tomorrow and still bring them to court. The third defendant had been on the run for upward of two years before he was arrested because his employer made frantic efforts to track him down but he kept running away until his arrests.”