BY AUSTIN OGWUDA
ASABA— AN Asaba High Court, yesterday, sentenced two persons to death by hanging, having found them guilty of kidnapping and robbing a female magistrate at gunpoint on Boxing Day two years ago.
The convicted persons, Saidu Haruna and Raphael Egwuba, who claimed to be phone technicians and welder at Osubi, respectively, were arraigned on a three-count charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping and armed robbery on charge no A/37C/2012.
Prosecution told the court that the female magistrate was, on December 26, 2011, driving into her compound at noon, when the armed men abducted her.
She was eventually taken to a bush where they dispossessed her of valuables, including an ATM card, which the convicts used to withdraw an undisclosed amount before they were caught.
During trial, prosecution called two witnesses, including the victim (female magistrate), to prove its case and also tendered some exhibits before the court, including the magistrate’s Blackberry phone, which eventually helped in tracking the convicts.
Identification parades were also conducted at the office of the Department of State Services, DSS, and in the open court, where the victim identified them.
The trial judge (identity withheld) in passing the sentence yesterday, said: “I disbelieve the evidence of the first and second accused persons as their testimonies were full of contradictions and meant to cover their tracks.
“From the totality of the evidence before this court, I hold that the first and second accused persons were involved in the kidnapping and robbing of one Onoriode Yvonne Asheshe of her Honda Pilot SUV, ATM card, jewelries and BlackBerry phone, while armed with a gun.
“I hold that prosecution has proved ingredients of counts one, two and three against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
“For count three (armed robbery), I hereby sentence the accused persons for execution by hanging on the neck until they be dead. May God have mercy on their souls.”
Nursing mother, another remanded
Meantime, an Asaba chief magistrate’s court presided over by Chief Magistrate S. C. Okebu, has remanded two persons, including a nursing mother, who were arrested in Asaba for allegedly operating a patent medicine store without license, in prison custody.
The two accused persons, Mrs Juliet Ekhomu and one Mr. Emeka Oburah, upon arraignment before the court, were ordered to be remanded and prosecution asked to duplicate file and send to the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, for necessary legal advice.
Prosecution told the court that the “offence was contrary to Section 2 (1)(b) and punishable under Section 3(1)(b) of the counterfeit and fake drugs and unwholesome Processed Foods (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, Cap C34, Volume 4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
Some of the drugs allegedly seized and recovered from their respective shops in Asaba, included several bottles and packets of high profile antibiotics: Zinat suspension, augmentin tablets and suspension, Zitromax, Ampiclox, Amoxil, Erythromycin, Misopresol and Ciprofloxacilin amongst others.