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June 15, 2024

Akwa Ibom: Court sentences native doctor to death for kidnapping

Akwa Ibom: Court sentences native doctor to death for kidnapping

By Egufe Yafugborhi, Chioma Onuegbu

UYO- Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo on Friday sentenced a native doctor, identified as George Andrew alias Sunday Akpan Adede to death by hanging for kidnapping two brothers, Chief Israel Efefiong Utit and Pastor Bassey Utit.

The native doctor who hails from Ikono Local Government Area of the state was said to have conspired with others now at large to commit the offence at Nkemba Street, in Uyo on 29th November, 2015 and harboured the victims in his shrine at Ikot Enua, Ikono while demanding N50m as ransom
The convict was standing trial with the first defendant, Ibe Francis Emeka on a six-count charge for conspiracy, kidnapping and armed robbery in which he was found guilty.

However, the court discharged and acquitted Ibe Emeka over failure of the prosecution to prove the ingredients of kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy against him.

Ibe, a native of Abia State stated that he was invited to Uyo by his friend, “Papa” only to be taken to a drinking joint at Nkemba street in company of one Ukeme Amos alias “Bishop” the leader of the kidnap gang and Jude Ihemekwa alias “Method” who is currently undergoing trial for another kidnapping case in Uyo.

In a one hour judgment on Friday, the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Ette described Ibe Francis Emeka as “an innocent man and a victim who happened to be in the company of wrong guys in the wrong place and at the wrong time by inadvertence”

He held that “the only difference between him and the other victims was that no ransom was placed on his head. He was, like the main victims, put in the same room with them, that piece of evidence was not debunked. He was precluded from leaving the camp hence his decision to escape with the victims. If he was a kidnapper, his access and exit would not have been restricted or curtailed as shown in evidence.

“The real kidnappers left the camp, he was not allowed the freedom of movement. That is why I see him as an innocent victim too.”

The trial judge noted that “the first defendant initiated the escape plan and the victims in their extra judicial statements corroborated the fact”stressing that “if the first defendant came from Aba to Uyo to make money through kidnapping as alleged by the prosecution, why then was he the one who initiated and aided the escape of the victims.

“It is in evident that the first defendant did not run away upon their escape, but followed the victims to their residence, got refreshed, had his bath and stayed behind with them till the DSS showed up.

“Even in the house of the victims and in the presence of the DSS officers, “Papa” texted the first defendant and vowed to kill him for aiding the escape of the victims and he showed the text to his hosts who showed it to the DSS officers.

“If this does not paint a different picture of the person of the first defendant, then it will be a surprise to me. I had the opportunity of watching the demeanor of the first defendant in Court, he didn’t come across to me as a hardened criminal. He was sincere in his testimony.

“He became like Jonathan in the camp of King Saul his father who had no reason to die but for filial considerations. The lesson being; do not be found an innocent man in the camp of the wrong men. I advise him to be careful with those he calls friends.

“Unlike Jonathan, Ibe Francis Emeka won’t die, at least not in my hands. Today, I have the honour of breaking the chains of bondage that held him down for 10 years in the custodial center. I declare him not guilty indeed of the six counts charge and free him accordingly.”