Three policemen and four others have been sentenced to death by hanging for kidnapping a woman, Akwa Ibom state.
Justice Joy Unwana of the State High Court In Uyo, the state capital, also sentenced another woman, Deaconess Ime Ekanem, to death for getting the contract of cooking for the kidnapped victim while in the kidnapper’s custody.
Justice Unwana said: “The decision of the court to pass the death sentence is in tandem with the anti-kidnapping law of Akwa Ibom State. It is a loud statement to the country that the crime of kidnapping is a grievous offence in the state and punishable by death. I hope it will discourage those planning to engage in the crime to steer clear off Akwa Ibom.”
A suit marked HU/13c/2012 was instituted against eight members of the gang in 2012. The defendants are Cpl Emmanuel Charlie, Ekaette Moses, Fidelis Jeremiah, Cpl Bassey Sunday (377812), PC Mfon Bassey (478463), Ndu Johnny, Unyime Etukakpan, and Itohowo Akpakwa.
They were convicted on a three-count charge of conspiracy to commit felony, kidnapping, and concealing, aiding and sponsoring kidnapping.
Akpakwa admitted visiting her friend in a bar at Idakeyop Aka, where she gave Etukakpan medication fee for his ill-health. Although Akpakwa claimed not to have known about the plot to kidnap her friend and neighbour, some members of the gang, told the court that they did not know her name when she attended the final meeting at Aka.
They, however, insisted that she was the one who identified her friend and gave the direction to her house in Obio Etoi village, Uyo.
According to reports, the victim was dragged out of the Toyota Sienna car driven by her husband, in front of the family house at about 6.30pm and whisked away in a Volvo Wagon car to Afaha Udoeyop in Ibesikpo Asutan council area, where she was kept, under armed guard, in an isolated building.
The anti-kidnapping unit of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) investigated the incident, as negotiations for ransom were looking, with the initial N20million reduced to N1.8million, which was agreed to be paid in two instalments.
However, when it was time to pay the ransom, SCID officers who were not in uniform were bewildered when they saw that the first two persons who approached the Afaha Ibesikpo Market square venue to receive the ransom were fellow SCID operatives. Shortly after the encounter, the venue for the delivery of the ransom was changed.
Meanwhile, sharing the proceeds of the crime led to disagreement, and a member of the gang, who was in Uyo Prison on a different criminal matter, returned home to discover that he had been short-changed. He then confessed details of the plot and how it was carried out to the Police.
The eighth and the only accused who escaped the capital punishment, Mrs Itohowo Akpakwa, a member of staff of the University of Uyo, had earlier been granted bail.