HOW RANSOM WAS COLLECTED BY EVANS – PROSECUTION

Read previous post on case here.

Trial of the alleged notorious kidnapper popularly referred to as ‘Evans’ for the alleged kidnap and abduction of Chairman of Cometstar, Chief James Uduji continued today at the High Court of Lagos State with the prosecution calling two more witnesses.

 

At the resumed proceedings, Director of Public Prosecutions at the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Titilayo Shitta-Bey called Donatus Nwoye, a driver to Chief Uduji. He testified that he was in the vehicle with Chief Uduji and the second driver, Mr. Okezie on the 7th of September 2015 when the incident occurred. He stated that they were enroute the home of Chief Uduji in Festac Town when an ash-colored Jeep driving towards them stopped and three armed men came out and began to shoot at the vehicle. He testified that he sustained a bullet injury on his left shoulder and showed his shoulder to the court. He testified that one of the men opened the door and dragged him out threatening to shoot him but he begged stating that he was only a driver. The man then fired into the air instead. He testified that they dragged Chief Uduji out of the car and into their own vehicle and sped off. He stated that when they left, he tapped the other driver whom he thought was dead because he fell headlong on the steering wheel but found out he was alive. Okada riders therefore rushed to their aid and took him to the hospital. Under cross-examination, Donatus admitted that the attack was sudden and he tried to take cover.

 

The prosecution also called Chief Edwin Uduji, senior brother to Chief James Uduji and his testimony mainly centred around how the ransom was paid. He testified that he paid the sum of 200,000 USD on the 16th of September 2015 and the sum of 800,000USD subsequently. He testified that he was communicated to through an unknown number and that even the Department of State Security Services (DSS) tried to track the number with no success. He testified that he was allowed to talk to his brother with the kidnapper listening in and giving directions on a three-way call. He raised the first 200,000 USD from sales of the company, Cometstar and when he was finding it difficult to raise further cash, the kidnapper suggested he substitute with his brother who would find it easier to raise the funds but he refused stating that he is on treatment for diabetes and hypertension.

 

He further testified that the Sun Newspapers at the time published a news story about the kidnap and the kidnapper immediately contacted him asking him to go to the Sun Newspaper to retract the story which he did. He stated that he spoke to only one man (kidnapper) all through the ordeal.

 

On how the ransom was paid on the 16th of September 2015, he testified that he was given instructions to go to a certain place and when he got there, he would be given instructions to go to another location and then another. He stated that this went on for about five hours until he was asked to go to a place around Cele bus stop in Lagos. On getting there at about 2 a.m., he was asked to drop the money by the road and drive off which he did. While driving off, he saw the full headlights of a car stop by the money and a man pick it up but he did not see the person.

 

During cross-examination, Chief Uduji was asked if anyone else spoke to the kidnappers. He stated that he wouldn’t know who and who the kidnappers spoke to but that they were mostly in touch with him. He testified that before the payment of the 800,000 USD which was the second payment, he had insisted while speaking to his brother that his brother’s wife must call him and state that it is okay that he should pay the ransom. He stated that his brother’s wife did call him and tell him that she spoke to the kidnappers and that they stated that they would release his brother after he paid the money and that he should go ahead to do so. When asked if he would be willing to show his statement of account which showed where he transferred the money to a BDC to change to dollars, he obliged. The charge was thus adjourned to enable him to do so.

 

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