The third prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of alleged billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (popularly known as Evans), Friday narrated how he delivered €232,000 ransom to the kidnappers of Donatus Dunu.
Uchenna Okagwu said he was instructed to avoid any mistake while making the drop otherwise he would be shot dead.
Messrs Evans, Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, and Victor Aduba are facing a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping before Hakeem Oshodi, a judge of the Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court.
Evans had initially pleaded guilty to the charge of kidnapping but later reversed his plea.
He – alongside Aduba – is also facing a four-count charge of conspiracy, kidnapping, and unlawful possession of firearms before Oluwatoyin Taiwo, a judge of the Ikeja Special Offences Court.
Dunu was the last victim allegedly kidnapped by Evans and his group before their arrest in June last year.
On Friday, Okagwu, a manager at Dunu’s Maydon Pharmaceutical Company, said they waited to hear the kidnappers’ ransom fee after his principal was abducted last year.
“As the manager of the Idumota branch, we worked towards raising money for the kidnappers when they asked for ransom,” said Okagwu, who said he had worked at Dunu’s company for more than seven years.
“After about two months, I was called by Anselm Dunu, Donatus’ brother, to come and deliver the money to the kidnappers, that they have raised €232,000.
“After counting the money, we put it in a polythene bag and wrapped it very well with sellotape and I went with the money. Anselm gave me his phone that they would use it to direct me to where I would take the ransom to.
“I started receiving calls with the phone from the kidnappers saying I should make no mistakes that if I do, I would be shot. I was asked if I know the way towards Mile 2 and I said yes, I went with the money inside the vehicle, putting the money under the passenger’s seat in the front and I moved out of the compound towards Mile 2.”
Okagwu said he received further calls from the kidnappers describing the routes they want him to follow.
“I received another call and I asked if I should follow Oshodi-Isale or Oshodi-Oke and they said I should follow Oshodi-Oke. I was driving slowly so I entered service lane so I won’t cause traffic. I left the house before 8 p.m. I was asked to enter the express when I got to Ijesha so they will not collect the money from me.
“I was asked if I know the eatery at Apple Junction, that is, Tank and Tummy, and I said yes and was told to park there. I waited for about 15-20 minutes and was directed to move to Apple Junction at Festac inside. I was asked to put on the inner light of the vehicle and drive slowly.
“I was directed towards Okota and was told to enter a street immediately after the canal where Okada men usually stay. I was asked to drive down the street and was asked to describe everything I see and should tell them when I see a blinking light on an electric pole.
“I was told to turn back at a point and left from where I entered. I was told to turn back again towards where I came from to the end of the street and told to turn back again. At a point, I was asked to park, get down from the vehicle with the ransom and walk back.
“As I walked to the back of my vehicle, like three steps away, I was asked to drop the ransom and I did and was told to move immediately after dropping the money. As I looked around, I only saw a vehicle parked at the beginning of the street with full lights on, the vehicle looked like an SUV Jeep.”
During cross-examination, the defence counsel to the first, second, third, and fourth defendants, Olukoya Ogungbeje, asked if he saw anybody when he dropped the ransom or gave it to anybody directly.
The witness responded in the negative.
The counsel to the fifth and sixth defendants, A.A Uzoukwu and Emmanuel Ochai, respectively said they had no questions for the witness.
Earlier in the trial, Ogungbeje told the court he would refrain from further cross-examining the prosecution’s second witness and kidnap victim, Dunu, on the grounds that the witness was refusing to answer his questions and preferring to give answers to questions he had formulated in his mind.
“Since prosecution witness number 2 is not willing to answer the questions I pose to him in this cross-examination and my complaints to the court in this regard are not considered, I shall stop further cross-examination,” Ogungbeje said.
In response to his statement, the judge said, “It is quite unfortunate that the legal counsel can make such statement that the witness is not answering his questions, but it is his prerogative to conduct defence as he deems fit. The court hereby closes cross-examination on behalf of the first, second, third, and fourth defendants and call on the counsel for the fifth defendant to cross-examine the witness.”
Counsel to the fifth and sixth, however, said they had no question for the witness.
While re-examining, prosecuting counsel, Titilayo Shitta-Bey, asked the witness to clarify what he meant when he said the disparity in dates written in his statement to the police was a mistake.
Dunu said, “When I wrote the statement, it was immediately after I escaped, I wasn’t myself at that point that’s why I made the mistake of writing 14 April instead of February as my capture date.”
The judge adjourned the trial till June 22 for continuation of trial.