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Accused Confesses To Receiving N28m Ransom To Release Kidnapped Senior Advocate


An accused, Frank Azuekor, one of the four men charged with kidnapping Chief Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), on Tuesday, said his gang members received a N28 million ransom before releasing Ozekhome.

Testifying before a Federal High Court in Abuja, Azuekor told the court that he received N4.1 million as his share of the ransom.

Azuekor, Kelvin Ezeigbe, Michael Omonigho and Momoh Haruna, were arraigned in 2013 on a 13-count charge bordering on conspiracy, armed robbery, kidnapping and acts of terrorism.

Following the objection of Mr Bala Dakum, counsel to the accused persons, to the admissibility of their confessional statements to the Department of State Services (DSS), the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, had ordered a trial-within-trial.

The accused counsel had argued that the confessional statements purportedly made to the DSS were not voluntarily made by his clients.

At Tuesday’s resumed hearing, the DSS produced video footages of the conditions of the statement-taking to prove the voluntariness or otherwise of the statements.

Azuekor revealed in one of the clips played while examining a DSS witness, that on Aug. 23, 2013, the initial seven-man gang ambushed Ozekhome’s vehicle on Auchi Road in Edo State and shot dead three police officers who pursued them.

He said the gang recovered two Ak-47 rifles from the police.

Azuekor also disclosed that his men received a N28 ransom from Ozekhome before releasing him.

According to the charge sheet, the accused persons and others, now at large, committed acts of terrorism contrary to sections 1, 8 and 10 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011.

They also allegedly shot and killed five Police officers, namely, ASP Paul Ajaka; Inspector Sunday Ewanshiha; Inspector Michael Akpada; Inspector Bakary Ekong and Sergeant Innocent Odoh.

The accused also allegedly killed two Prison officials, namely, Inspector Lawrence Edora and SPA Oyibo Okoye, and made away with their service rifles.

Justice Ademola adjourned the case till July 8 and 9 for the cross examination of the witness on the video evidence produced in court on Tuesday.

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