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Interpreter’s absence stalls arraignment of suspected Turkish school kidnappers

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja   |   21 June 2017   |   4:32 am

Suspected kidnappers of the Turkish school students during their arraignment in Abuja yesterday. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ELUKPO

The inability of the Federal High Court in Abuja to get a translator stalled the scheduled arraignment of some men alleged to be involved in the recent abduction of some pupils in Lagos and Ogun states.

The five men were accused of kidnapping some pupils and staff of Nigeria/Tulip International College in Isheri, Ogun State on January 13, 2017, and another six victims along the Ikorodu Expressway, Lagos, on December 16, 2016.

They are Bekewei Agbojule (aka Asari), Egbasimokumo Ayeomi (aka Effiong), Godspower Olopele, Toki Okuba and Super Allen Baye (aka Yanga).

Agbojule, Ayeomi and Baye are said to be from the Ijaw community of Arogbo town in the riverine area of Ondo State, while the other two, Olopele and Okuba, are said to be residents of Ikorodu in Lagos and Isheri in Ogun State.

The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), on June 1, 2017 filed a five-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/85/2017 against the five alleged abductors after taking over the case from the police.

The charge was signed on behalf of the AGF by an Assistant Chief State Counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Aminu Alilu.

When defendants were brought to court yesterday by the police, Alilu (who is leading the prosecution team) and lawyers to the defence were in court.

Proceedings were however stalled shortly after the defendants were called into the dock and some of them said they do not understand English well, but pidgin English.

After some minutes of trying to get a translator, without success, Justice John Tsoho elected to adjourn proceedings to today (Wednesday) to allow for the appearance of a translator.

In the charge, the office of the AGF described the acts of hostage taking and receiving of ransoms, which the defendants were accused of, as acts of terrorism punishable by life imprisonment under the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013.

The defendants are, in the first three counts of the charge, are accused of conspiring among themselves and with others at large and demanded for N800 million ransom after they “seized” and “detained” the pupils and workers of Nigeria/Tulip International College, Isheri, Ogun State.

They later reduced the ransom to N50 million, which they allegedly received before releasing the victims.

The seven pupils and employees of Nigeria/Tulip International College, allegedly abducted by the defendants were Stephanie Nwosu, Zainab Olatubosun, Rebecca Agodi, Radiyan Aminu, Rashidat Ibrahim, Hanat Aderinto and Deriyo Yaziel.

In counts four and five, the defendants, along with others (now at large) are said to have, on December 16, 2016, at Asolo Bridge, Ikorodu Expressway, Lagos, seized at gun point one Joshua Olayinka, Rita Morah, Kendra Abiose and four others.

The defendants were said to have after seizing the six victims in Ikorodu, gone ahead to detain them at Ibafo Creek, Ogun State.

They allegedly demanded a N2 million ransom from family members of the victims and received the money before releasing their victims.




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