The State High Court in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital has sentenced three policemen and four others to death by hanging for kidnapping a woman.
Another woman, who was contracted to cook for the victim, Deaconess Ime Ekanem, while in the custody of the kidnappers, was also sentenced to death.
Justice Joy Unwana sentenced the defendants according to the anti-kidnapping law of the state.
A suit marked HU/13c/2012 was instituted against eight members of the gang in 2012. The defendants are Cpl Emmanuel Charlie, Ekaette Moses, Fidelis Jeremiah, Cpl Bassey Sunday (377812), PC Mfon Bassey (478463), Ndu Johnny, Unyime Etukakpan, and Itohowo Akpakwa.
They were convicted on a three-count charge of conspiracy to commit felony, kidnapping, and concealing, aiding and sponsoring kidnapping.
Justice Unwana said: “The decision of the court to pass the death sentence is in tandem with the anti-kidnapping law of Akwa Ibom State. It is a loud statement to the country that the crime of kidnapping is a grievous offence in the state and punishable by death. I hope it will discourage those planning to engage in the crime to steer clear off Akwa Ibom.”
Akpakwa confessed to visiting her friend in a bar at Idakeyop Aka, where she gave Etukakpan money to buy medicine for his ill-health. Although Akpakwa denied knowledge of the plot to kidnap her friend and neighbor, some members of the gang told the court that they did not know her name when she attended the final meeting at Aka.
They, however, insisted that she was the one who identified her friend and gave the direction to her house in Obio Etoi village, Uyo.
It was learnt that the victim was dragged out of the Toyota Sienna car driven by her husband, in front of the family house at about 6.30pm and whisked away in a Volvo Wagon car to Afaha Udoeyop in Ibesikpo Asutan council area, where she was kept, under armed guard, in an isolated building.
The anti-kidnapping unit of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) investigated the incident, as negotiations for ransom were looking, with the initial N20million reduced to N1.8million, which was agreed to be paid in two installments.
However, when the ransom was to be paid, SCID officers, who were in mufti, were shocked to discover that the first two persons who approached the Afaha Ibesikpo Market square venue for the ransom delivery were fellow SCID operatives. Shortly after the encounter, the venue for the delivery of the ransom was changed.
A police investigation report, it was gathered, indicated that after changing the venue three times, the first installment of N800,000 was delivered at Itam in another Local Government Area.
Meanwhile, sharing the proceeds of the crime led to disagreement, and a member of the gang, who was in Uyo Prison on a different criminal matter, returned home to discover that he had been short-changed. He then confessed details of the plot and how it was carried out to the Police.
The eighth and the only accused who escaped the capital punishment, Mrs. Itohowo Akpakwa, a member of staff of the University of Uyo, had earlier been granted bail.