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  • Crime
  • Updated: June 15, 2024

Native doctor sentenced to death for kidnapping in Akwa Ibom

Native doctor sentenced to death for kidnapping in Akwa Ibom

On Friday, the Akwa Ibom State High Court in Uyo condemned Sunday George Andrew, better known as Sunday Akpan Adede, to death by hanging for the kidnapping of Pastor Bassey Utit and Chief Israel Efefiong Utit.

According to reports, Andrew, a local doctor from the state's Ikono Local Government Area, planned the crime with several other people who are now at large on November 29, 2015, at Nkemba Street in Uyo.

He then allegedly harboured the victims at his shrine in Ikot Enua, Ikono, and demanded N50 million in ransom.

The court discharged and acquitted Ibe Francis Emeka because the prosecution was unable to establish the elements of kidnapping, armed robbery, and conspiracy against him.

The convicted native doctor was on trial alongside the first defendant, Emeka, on a six-count charge of conspiracy, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

Emeka, an Abia State native, claimed that after receiving an invitation to visit Uyo from his friend "Papa," he was brought to a pub on Nkemba Street by Ukeme Amos, also known as "Bishop," the gang's leader, and Jude Ihemekwa, also known as "Method," who is presently on trial for a different abduction case in Uyo.

He stated that when on Nkemba Street, the gang observed a black Toyota Corolla and double-crossed it. Before he knew it, "Bishop" and "Papa" had hauled the two brothers from their car to another car and told him to take the front seat, while "Bishop" and the victims were confined in the rear, and "Papa" had taken the victims' car away.

In a one-hour judgement on Friday, the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Ette, described Ibe Francis Emeka as "an innocent man and victim who happened to be in the company of the wrong guys in the wrong place and at the wrong time by inadvertence," adding 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 the evidence. The real kidnappers left the camp; he was not allowed freedom of movement. That is why I see him as an innocent victim too,” Justice Ette held.

The Court additionally stated that "the first defendant initiated the escape plan and the victims in their extra-judicial statements corroborated the fact," highlighting 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."

Justice Ette said, "It is in evidence 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 these do not paint a different picture of the person of the first defendant, then it will be a surprise to me. I had the opportunity to watch the demeanour of the first defendant in court; he didn’t come across to me as a hardened criminal. He was sincere in his testimony,” Justice Ette further held.

“He became like Jonathan in the camp of King Saul, his father, who had no reason to die but for filial considerations. The lesson is to not find 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 centre. I declare him not guilty indeed of the six counts charge and free him accordingly,” the court held.

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