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We received N28m ransom before releasing kidnapped Senior Advocate

17 June 2015, 06:54

Abuja - Frank Azuekor, one of four suspects charged with kidnapping Chief Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on Tuesday said his gang took a N28 million ransom before releasing Ozekhome.

Azuekor told a Federal High Court in Abuja 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.

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

Dakum 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 a video footage of the conditions of the statement-taking to prove the voluntariness of the statements.

In one of the clips played while examining a DSS witness, Azuekor revealed that on August 23, 2013, the initial seven-man gang ambushed Ozekhome’s vehicle on Auchi Road in Edo.

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He said that the gang shot dead three police officers who pursued them and recovered two Ak-47 rifles from them.

Azuekor said the gang received a N28 ransom from Ozekhome before releasing him, adding that he got N4.1 million as his share.

The accused persons and others, still at large, are accused of committing acts of terrorism, contrary to sections 1, 8 and 10 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011.

They are alleged to have, on August 23, 2013, kidnapped Ozekhome at Iruekpen on his way to Iviukwe in Agenebode, Edo.

Ozekhome was held in captivity for about three weeks before his release allegedly following the payment of a ransom.

The suspects also allegedly shot and killed four Police officers namely Paul Ajaka (ASP); Sunday Ewanshiha; Michael Akpada, Bakary Ekong and Innocent Odoh.

They also allegedly killed two prison officials namely Lawrence Edora and Oyibo Okoye (SPA) and made away with their service rifles.

Justice Ademola adjourned the case until July 8 and July 9 to enable the defence counsel to cross examine the witness on the video evidence.



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