A Nigerian, Mr Uchenna Okagwu, on Friday narrated in a Lagos High Court how he paid an alleged kidnap kingpin, Mr. Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans, the sum of 232,000 Euros (about N99.76 million), to secure the release of an abductee.
Okagwu said that he paid the sum to the Nnewi, Anambra-born kidnapper, to secure the release of his kidnapped boss, Mr Donatus Dunu, the Managing Director of the Maydon Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Evans is currently facing trial alongside Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi and Victor Aduba.
Okagwu, a Manager at Maydon Pharmaceuticals Ltd., while being led in evidence by Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, said that Evans and his gang threatened him that any mistake made in the delivery of the ransom would cost him his life.
“I have been working with Maydon Pharmaceuticals Company for over seven years, after we heard of the kidnap of Mr Donatus Dunu, we waited to hear from the kidnappers so we 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 Anselem Dunu, the brother of Mr Donatus, to deliver 232, 000 euros that was raised to the kidnappers.
“After counting the money, we put it in a polythene bag and wrapped it very well with cello tape and I went with the money.
“Mr Anselm gave me his phone that they would use it to direct me to where I would take the ransom.
“I started receiving calls with the phone from the kidnappers, who warned that I should make no mistakes that if I do, I would be shot.
Okagwu in his evidence, gave a step by step account of how he delivered the ransom to Evans.
He said: “I was asked if I knew 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 towards Mile 2.
“I received another call and I asked if I should follow Oshodi Isale or Oshodi Oke 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 8 p.m. 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 Apple Junction, called Tank and Tummy and I said yes and was told to park there.
“I waited for about 15 to 20 minutes and was directed to move to Apple Junction at Festac and I was asked to put on the inner light of the vehicle and drive slowly.
“I was directed towards Okota and was told to get to a street immediately after the canal where commercial motorcyclists stay.
“I was asked to drive down the street and was asked to describe everything I see and should tell them when I see a blinking light on an electric pole.
“I was told to turn back at a point and go left from where I entered. I was told to turn back again towards where I came from to the end of the street and told to turn back again.
“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 and I was three steps away, I was asked to drop the ransom, I did so and was told to move immediately after dropping the money.
“As I looked around, I only saw a vehicle parked at the beginning of the street with full lights on, the vehicle looked like an SUV.”
During cross-examination, Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, the Defence Counsel to Evans, Amadi, Uchechukwu and Nwachukwu, asked Okagwu if he saw anyone when he dropped off the ransom.
Answering, Okagwu denied seeing anyone when he was delivering the ransom, adding that he did not give the money directly to any person.
Defence Counsel to Ifeanyi, Mr A.A. Uzoukwu and Aduba, Mr Emmanuel Ochai, declined to cross-examine Okagwu.
Earlier during proceedings, Ogungbeje had told the court that he would refrain from further cross-examining Dunu, the kidnap victim on the grounds that he refused to answer his questions.
Ogungbeje claimed Dunu preferred to give answers to questions he (Dunu) had formulated in his mind.
“Since the second prosecution witness is not willing to answer the questions I pose to him in this cross-examination and my complaints to the court in this regard are not considered, I shall stop further cross-examination,” Ogungbeje said.
Responding to Ogungbeje’s submission, Justice Hakeem Oshodi said: “It is quite unfortunate that the legal counsel can make such statement that the witness is not answering his questions.
“It is his prerogative to conduct his 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. ”
Uzoukwu and Ochai also declined to cross-examine Dunu.
Re-examining Dunu, Shitta-Bey asked him to clarify what he meant about the disparity in dates written in his statement to the police being a mistake.
He said: “When I wrote the statement, it was immediately after I escaped. I wasn’t myself at that point that is why I made the mistake of writing April 14, instead of Feb.14 as my capture date,” Dunu said.
Oshodi adjourned the case until June 22 for continuation of trial.