By Chioma Onuegbu
Uyo—Three policemen and four others were, yesterday, sentenced to death by an Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo for kidnapping one Deaconess Ime Anietie Ekanem
Those sentenced included Cpl Emmanuel Charlie, Cpl Bassey Sunday, PC Mfon Bassey, Ekaette Edet Moses, Fidelis Emmanson Jeremiah, Ndu Okon Johnny and Unyime Edem Etukakpan
The court presided by Justice Joy Unwana convicted the culprits on a three-count charge of conspiracy to commit felony, kidnapping, aiding and sponsoring of kidnapping.
In a confessional statement by the 8th accused person, Mrs Itohowo Akpakwa, which was admitted as an exhibit, she confessed to visiting her friend in a bar at Idakeyop Aka where she gave the 7th accused person, Unyime Edem Etukakpan money to buy medicine for his ill health.
While Mrs Akpakwa denied knowledge of the plot to kidnap her friend and neighbour, Deaconess Ekanem, no fewer than three other members of the kidnap gang told the court that they did not know her name at the time she visited during the final meeting at Aka.
They insisted that she was the one who identified her friend and gave direction to her residence in Obio Etoi village, Uyo Local Government Area.
How she was kidnapped
It was gathered that the kidnapped victim was dragged out of a Toyota Sienna car driven by her husband in front of her house at about 6.30 pm that fateful day and transferred to a Volvo Wagon car used by the hoodlums.
She was taken to an isolated building at Afaha Udoeyop in Ibesikpo Asutan LGA and N20 million demanded before she would be released by her abductors.
The kidnappers after negotiation with the husband later agreed to collect N1.8 million to be paid in two instalments.
It was learned that plain-clothed operatives of the State CID, investigating the kidnap case, were, however, shocked to discover that the first two persons who approached the Afaha Ibesikpo market square, venue for the delivery of the ransom were their colleagues at the state CID.
It was further gathered that it was when a member of the gang, who at the time of sharing the money was in Uyo Prison on a different criminal matter, returned home to discover that he had been short-changed that trouble started among the gang.
He then disclosed the plot and how it was carried out to the police, and later became the star witness for the state.
However, the 8th accused, Mrs Itohowo Akpakwa, a staff of the University of Uyo, was earlier granted bail.
Her lawyer, Samuel Ikpo, had insisted that there was no reason his client should languish in prison when there was no direct evidence linking her to the commission of the crime and was accordingly discharged and acquitted.