Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Four persons, Uche Vincent Uzondu, Emeka Amukali, Paul Egwom and Festus Oghali are to die by hanging after a Delta State High Court in Asaba pronounced them guilty of offences ranging from kidnapping to armed robbery and unlawful possession of arms.
The convicts and one David Mario have been facing a nine-count charge of conspiracy to commit felony to wit: kidnapping, armed robbery and wounding with intent.
The count presided over by Justice Flora Ngozi Azinge, however, discharged and acquitted the fifth defendant, David Mario, of all charges for lack of sufficient evidence linking him to the crime.
Justice Azinge found the first four defendants guilty of all the charges and were accordingly sentenced to death by hanging on the count of armed robbery.
The court held that the prosecution established and proved beyond reasonable doubt the offenses for which they were charged, and that the defendants failed woefully to create any doubt.
While disbelieving the evidence of the defendants, the court further held that from their confessional statements, they conspired and worked together in synergy to perpetrate their criminal activities, adding that their denials that they do not know each other was a blatant lie and an afterthought.
The judge ruled that from their confessional statements, two of the defendants’ statements corroborated as they narrated vividly, in separate accounts, their mode of operation.
The four-man gang is believed to be responsible for a series of snatching of expensive cars in Asaba and its environs before they were apprehended.
The convicts had also held their victims (owners of the stolen cars) hostage, collecting ransom from their distraught family members.
In the particulars of offence, the defendants were accused of robbing one Ilechie Michael Nnaemeke of his Lexus RX 350 SUV with registration number BDG 203 DA, two mobile phones and other valuables while armed with a gun, and also wounded him with intent as he was shot in the leg when he raised alarm
during the scuffle that had ensued. The incident happened on December 3, 2014 in Asaba, within the Asaba judicial division.
Ten days later, the accused persons carried out another operation in Asaba where they robbed one Titus Ayuba, a surveyor, of his Lexus RX 350 SUV with registration number AKU 230 HT, one laptop computer, GPS receiver, cheque book and other valuables while armed with guns. The victim had been held hostage for six days before being freed after collecting an undisclosed amount of money from his wife as ransom.
Just four days later, on December 16, still within the Asaba judicial division, the defendants robbed one Emeka Ojogwu of his Infinity SUV with registration number AJ 262 AYB, N320,000, one wrist watch and two mobile phones while armed with guns.
Like Ayuba, Ojogwu was held hostage for six days, and only regained his freedom after his wife paid out N600,000.00 as ransom to his abductors.
Nemesis, however, caught up with the gang when one of their victims, whose car was seized at gun point, sighted his stolen car which had by then been re-painted to another colour, around a shop along the busy Asaba-Benin expressway, and reported the discovery to the police.
Acting on the tip-off, detectives swooped on the said shop, where stolen cars are refurbished, recovering several cars as the accused (and eventually convicted) persons were apprehended.