Witness narates how €233,000 ransom was given to Evans’ gang
The prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, aka Evans, Mr. Uchenna Okagwu, yesterday, narrated to the court how he dropped 233,000 Euros for the gang to secure the rescue of his boss, Mr. Donatus Duru, from the kidnappers.
Okagwu, who disclosed this in his testimony in an ongoing trial of Evans and his gang before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of a Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja, said he couriered the ransom of 233,000 Euros to a location somewhere in Okota area to deliver to those holding his master’s hostage.
Okagwu, who is a manager at Maydon Pharmaceutical Company Limited, said following the news of the kidnap of his boss on February 14, last year, officials of the firm waited to hear from the kidnappers on how to secure the release of their boss.
In his evidence, led by Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, Okagwu said being the branch manager of the company, he worked to raised money to rescue his boss, adding: “After about two months, I was called by Mr. Anslem Duru, (his boss’ brother) that we have to go and rescue him with the money gathered. So, I was called to come and deliver the money to the kidnappers.”
He explained that based on instruction, he took the sum of 233,000 Euros, counted at the residence of his boss’ brother’s house at Maryland, to the designated point, where the kidnappers would pick up the ransom.
“Mr. Anslem Duru, who had earlier been communicating with the kidnappers on the phone, handed his phone to me, because he was told that while he is on transit to deliver the money, he will be receiving call.”
In his description of how he delivered the money, Okagwu said: “They put it inside the polythene bag and wrapped it very well. I tucked it under the passenger’s seat.
“Anslem gave me his phone, that it is with his phone that I will be receiving call to direct me to where they will direct.”
The witness further said as he moved out around 8 pm that night, he started to receive calls while driving.
“I just heard the voice saying I should not make any mistake, that I will be shot if I did. I was directed and commanded to move to the location, giving me instruction from time to time.
“On getting to a street at Okota area, I was directed to a street immediately after a canal, where Okada riders used to park. I was queried if I had someone with me in the car, and I said there was no one with me. They asked if I was seeing a blinking light on an electric pole and I said I saw it.”
Okagwu said at a point in the back-and-front movement they subjected him to, he told court that, they said to him: “Park, come down with the ransom and walk to the back of the vehicle. As I walked towards the back of my vehicle, like three steps, the boys commanded that I should drop the money. I observed a car with full lights on at the end of a street linked to the street.
“After dropping the bag of money, I quickly moved down to the house. I saw a vehicle that looked liked an SUV.”
While being cross-examined by defence counsel to some of the defendants, Mr. Kayode Ogungbeje, Okagwu said he did not hand over the money to anybody in particular at the location.
Other counsel in the matter, however, did not cross-examine the witness.
Earlier, when the kidnap victim, Mr. Donatus Duru, concluded his evidence, Ogungbeje, who cross-examined him, was dissatisfied at some points with the manner the star witness was answering his questions, as he wanted the witness to answer yes or no.
Ogungbeje, therefore, addressed told court: “Since the second prosecution witness is not willing to answer the questions posed to him in this cross-examination and my complaints in this regard is taken with a pinch of salt, I shall stop further cross-examination. I am much obliged.”
The judge therefore adjourned the matter till June 22, 2018 for further hearing.
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