Trial of Ozekhome's abductors stalled over admission of evidence

Trial of Ozekhome's abductors stalled over admission of evidence

Thursday, November 13, 2014 7:27 pm

Nnamdi Felix / Abuja

Trial of alleged kidnappers of Nigerian lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate of Nigeria before a federal court in Abuja was stalled Thursday following their objections to the admissibility of their written confessional statements in evidence in their ongoing trial.

The prosecutor, Mrs. Chioma Onuegbu, had resumed proceedings leading an unidentified operative of the State Security Service, SSS, in evidence. In the course of his testimony, the witness identified the confessional statements written under caution by the suspected kidnappers where they allegedly confessed to the alleged crimes and the prosecutor moved to have the court admit the confessional statements in evidence, but the accused persons’ lawyer, Mr. Bala Dakum, opposed the move and maintained that the statements were obtained from his clients through coercion.

The witness told the court that the accused persons were involved in kidnapping of different individuals at various times within the Edo and Delta states axis, attacks on prison authority’s convoy which led to the death of two prison staff and several policemen. The witness also said the accused threatened the federal government to grant them amnesty failing which they would make their communities and parts of Delta state ungovernable.

He also told the Court that in the course of his investigation, that they offered to make a statement after which they confirmed that the confession statements were a true reflection of what they wanted to confess and that they answered in the affirmative before he, as the investigation officer, counter signed on their statements.

Their lawyer objected to the admissibility of the confessional statements claiming that since they were obtained from his clients through coercion, that they fell short of the requirements of the law. He thereafter applied for a trial within trial with a view to unravelling how the purported confessional statements were obtained from his clients.

The trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, thereafter adjourned till 4th and 5th of December for the trial within trial before the substantive trial will continue.

The accused persons, Kelvin Oniarah Eziegbe, Frank Azuekor and others at large were alleged to have kidnapped Mike Ozekhome (SAN) at Iruekpen, on his way to Iviukwe, Agenebode and shot and killed four policemen, namely Paul Sunday Ajaka (ASP), Sunday Ewanshita (Insp.), Michael Akpada (Insp.) and Balary Kong (Insp.) and you demanded and compelled him to pay a ransom of N40 million which were paid to them US dollars before they released the lawyer. The offence is punishable under section 1(2)(f) and Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 as amended.

They were also charged with conspiracy to commit terrorist act to wit: kidnapping of persons, accessory to an act of terrorism, inciting persons to commit act of terrorism, recruitment, escape and abetting escape, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 17 of Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended. The offences were committed between 2010 and 2013. Count two charges the suspects with murder of policemen, an offence punishable under section 17 of Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended.

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