A Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, on Friday, convicted and sentenced two of the four defendants alleged to have kidnapped Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, to a 20-year-jail term each.
Justice Binta Nyako, in a judgment, held that the prosecution had been able to establish the counts preferred against Kelvin Ezeigbe and Frank Azuekor, who were 1st and 2nd defendants, beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Nyako held that the sentence would run from the day of their arrest.
The judge, however, discharged and acquitted Michael Omonigho and Momoh Haruna, who were 3rd and 4th defendants, of the counts levelled against them in the terrorism charge.
She held that though some of the counts against Ezeigbe and Azuekor attracted punishment ranging from death sentence, life imprisonment to at least 10 years jail term, she said she had found that the accused had been been remorseful of their criminal act.
She said she also found that they had been in custody for about 10 year from the day of their arrest.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while Omonigho, who was said to be the chief priest was in court, Haruna was not.
When Nyako warned Omonigho to be careful as people worship in his shrine in the open court, the chief priest responded thus: “I have repented my lord.”
The judge, however, directed that Haruna, who was at large, should be brought to court to face the sin of his escape from lawful custody, even though he was discharged of the counts against him.
They judge commended the defence lawyer, Bala Dakum, and the prosecution counsel, Chioma Onuegbu, for their industrious input in the course of the trial.
NAN reports that the defendants; Kelvin Ezeigbe, Frank Azuekor, Michael Omonigho and Momoh Haruna were first arraigned before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a FHC, on June 9, 2014, on a 13-count charge bordering on conspiracy, armed robbery, kidnapping and acts of terrorism.
While the three defendants were in court, Haruna was said to be missing after the attack on Kuje Correctional Centre by terrorists on July 5, 2022.
They were accused of committing acts of terrorism, contrary to Sections 1, 8 and 10 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011.
They were alleged to have, on Aug. 23, 2013, kidnapped Mr. 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 N28 million ransom.
They were also accused of kidnapping Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof Hope Eghagha; Attanasius Ugbme and his friend, Emmanuel Maka Omorogbe, and killing five policemen and two prison officials.
The defendants were also alleged to have compelled Eghagha to pay N7 million, Ugbome paid N20 million and Omorogbe paid N3.5 million.
The five police officers allegedly killed were Paul Ajaka, Sunday Ewanshiha, Michael Akpada, Bakary Ekong and Innocent Odoh.
They also allegedly killed Lawrence Edora and Oyibo Okoye who were prison officers and made away with their service rifles.
The four suspects were refused bail filed on their behalf by their lawyer, Bala Dakum.
While Ezeigbe and Azuekor had been held at the facility of the Department of State Service (DSS), Omonigho and Haruna were held at Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja.