The manager of Maydon Pharmaceutical company, Uchenna Okeagwu, yesterday told an Ikeja High Court, Lagos how he paid the sum of 223,000 Euros ransom to the notorious kidnap kingpin,Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike alias Evans for the release of his boss, Donatus Duru.
Okeagwu, who is the 3rd prosecution witness in the trial of Evans, told the court that he took the money from Mr Duru’s brother’s house to Evans and his accomplices.
While led in evidence by the Director of Public Prosecution, Titilayo Shitta-Bey, Okeagwu said, “I am a manager at Maydon pharmaceutical company and have been working with them for over seven years. After we heard of the kidnap of Duru, we waited to hear from the kidnappers so we will know what to do to rescue him.
“As the manager of the idumota branch, we worked towards raising money for the kidnappers when they asked for ransom. After about two months, I was called by Anselm Duru, Donatus brother to come and deliver the money to the kidnappers that they have raised 223, 000 Euros.
“After counting the money, we put it in a polythene bag and wrapped it very well with cellotape 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 receving 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 passengers seat in the front and I moved out of the compound towards mile 2.
“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 8pm . 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 apo junction and I said yes and was told to park there. I waited for about 15-20 minutes and was directed to move to apo 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 regularly stay. I was asked to drive down the street and describe everything I saw and tell them when I see a blinking light on an electric pole.
“I was thereafter ordered to turn back at a point and leave from where I entered. 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 move away immediately after dropping the money; and I obeyed. As I looked around, I could only see a vehicle parked at the beginning of the street with full lights on, the vehicle looked like an SUV Jeep,” he said.
Meanwhile, during cross-examination, Counsel to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants, Olukoya Ogungbeje, asked if he saw anybody when he dropped the ransom or gave it to anybody directly, Okeagwu replied that he did not see anybody nor gave the ransom to anybody directly.
Earlier, Ogungbeje had told the court that he would refrain from further cross examining the 2nd witness, Donatus Dunu, who was the victim of the kidnap, noted that the witness was refusing to answer his questions but prefer to give answers to questions he had formulated in his mind.
He said, “since prosecution witness number two is not willing to answer the questions I pose to him in this cross examination and my complaints to the court in this regard is taking with a pinch of salt, I shall stop further cross-examination.”
In response to his statement, the presiding judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi 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 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants and call on the counsel for the 5th defendant to cross examine the witness.”
Consequently, Evans is standing trial alongside his five accomplices: Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi and Victor Aduba.
The case was further adjourned to the 22nd June for continuation of trial.