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‘Ozekhome paid N40m ransom to kidnappers’

By The Citizen
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Fresh fact emerged on Monday that a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Mike Ozekhome (SAN) paid N40m as ransom to regain his freedom from kidnappers in August 2013.

It was also revealed that a former commissioner in Delta State, Prof. Hope Eghagha, who was kidnapped in September 30, 2012 by the same gang also paid N7m after he was abducted on his way from Warri to Asaba.

These were revealed in the charges filed against three of the abductors before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The charges also revealed that Ozekhome paid N40m to the abductors in US dollars.

The accused persons, including the alleged gang leader, Mr. Kelvin Oniarah Eziegbe, on Monday pleaded not guilty to the 13 counts preferred against them.

The two other accused persons are Frank Azuekor and Michael Omonigho.

Count 9 of the charges reads, 'That you Kelvin Oniarah Eziegbe, Frank Azuekor and others at large on or about August 23, 2013 committed an act of terrorism to wit: kidnapped Mike Ozekhome (SAN), at Iruekpen, on his way to Iviukwe, Agenebode and shot and killed four policemen, namely, Paul Sunday Ajaka (ASP), Sunday Ewanshita (Insp), Michael Akpada (Insp) and Balary Kong (insp) and you demanded and compelled him to pay a ransom of N40m which were paid to you in US dollars before you released Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1(2)(f) and Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 as amended.'

The slain policemen according to the prosecution are Paul Sunday Ajaka, Sunday Ewanshiha, Michael Akpada, Bakary Kong and Innocent Odo, while the slain two prison officials are Lawrence Edore and Oyibo Okoye.

They were also charged with conspiracy to commit terrorist act of kidnapping, serving as accessory to an act of terrorism, inciting persons to commit act of terrorism, recruiting members and aiding and abetting terrorism.

They were accused of committing the offences which were said to be punishable under Section 17 of Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended, between 2010 and 2013.

Justice Ademola rejected the bail application filed by the accused persons' counsel, Bala Dakum, and ordered that the accused persons be remanded in the custody of the SSS.

The matter was adjourned till July 1.