Five men were on Tuesday arraigned before an Abuja High Court in Apo over their alleged complicity in the kidnap and subsequent murder of an official of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Sylvester Emefiele, a native of Ewuru in Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State.
Emefiele, an Electrical and Electronics Technologist, attached to NNPC’s Transformation Office, Corporate Planning and Strategy Division, was said to have been kidnapped and murdered on September 23, 2012 while on a trip to Abuja from Lagos.
Those arraigned were Akinlade Taiwo (41 years), Timothy Abidemi Lekan (30), Saidi Babatunde (47), Banjo Olaniyi (20) and Saliu Afeez (20).
They were arraigned on a seven-count charge of conspiracy, kidnapping, murder and armed robbery, offences they allegedly committed on September 23, 2012 in Abuja.
The trio and some others were alleged to have hypnotised the deceased, using some fetish substances allegedly provided by Babatunde; robbed him of his possessions, tied him up in a bush at Giri, Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja and killed him, using a sledge hammer.
In count one, the accused were charged with conspiracy to commit culpable homicide, while in count two, the trio and others now at large, were accused of kidnapping and killing Emefiele “by tying his hands and legs with rope and used a sledge harmer to hit him to death.”
Taiwo, Lekan, Babatunde and some others still at large were, in count three, accused of kidnapping and subjecting the deceased to the danger of being killed.
The three were also, in count four, accused of robbing the deceased of his belongings, including a laptop, three Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) cards a camera, a mobile telephone set and N183,000,00 cash.
Babatunde, who until his arrest was said to be resident on Opomalu Street, Ilorin, Kwara State, was, in count six, accused of producing and selling to Taiwo and Lekan “fetish charms and rings,” capable of “causing any natural phenomenon or any disease or epidemic.”
Olaniyi and Afeez were, in count seven, accused of receiving from Taiwo and Lekan, the mobile telephone sets stolen from the deceased.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge. An interpreter was procured when one of the accused persons, Babatunde said he did not understand English language.
Following the accused persons’ plea of not guilty, the prosecutor, Oloye Torugbene sought a day for trial and objected to an attempt by a defence lawyer, Olaniyi Oyinloye to move the bail application he filed for Olaniyi (the 4th accused).
The prosecutor said that having been served with the bail application in the court yesterday, he needed time to respond.
Justice O. A. Musa, who before the arraignment, granted leave to the prosecution to bring charges against the accuseds, adjourned to January 30 for hearing of their bail applications and ordered that the accuseds be remanded in Kuje prison.