From Jessica Tamaraduoye, Niger Delta
A Delta State High Court in Asaba has come down hard on three persons by sentencing them to 51 years in prison for kidnapping the wife of a former Ughelli South local government council chairman, Elizabeth Otidi.
The convicts are Kelly Ogun, a 33 years-old farmer, Udoji Peter, a 35 years-old farmer and Iloaria Jonathan, a 26 year old taxi driver.
The prosecution counsel from the Delta State Ministry of Justice had told the court that on January 28, 2010, the three accused persons with others now at large conspired and kidnapped Otidi at Kiagbodo while she was returning from market in her car.
The lawyer told the court that the kidnappers numbering over six in a Volkwaggen Jetta car drove dangerously and hit their victim’s car from behind as she slowed down to cross a speed breaker, following which they jumped out of their vehicle, seized her and whisked her away to a forest across the Bomadi River.
The convicts were said to have subsequently demanded for the sum of N30 million to be paid as ransom to them by the victim’s husband before she could regain her freedom.
Otidi, in an act of bravery, however, outwitted her abductors and escaped from their den in the night after pretending to be pressed.
The three kidnappers allegedly made voluntary confessional statements to the police where they admitted to the offence at the initial stage, but made a u-turn when they denied all the charges during trial.
The court nonetheless found them guilty of the counts of conspiracy and kidnapping and sentenced them to a total of 51 years behind bar