He said he was kidnapped on August 23, 2009 by 16 men, 12 of these men have been arrested by the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, with the assistance of the local vigilante operatives while nine were charged to court after thorough investigations and screening by the police.
Okeke who stated this at the conclusion of his evidence-in-chief, yesterday, said of the nine charged, six were granted bail while awaiting trial in prison custody because, according to the court, their trial was unduly delayed by the government lawyers, but they jumped bail and refused to appear in court till date, even after the incumbent trial judge had issued a bench warrant for their re-arrest.
Okeke told the court that Emeka Eze, the first defendant on the original list and one of the gang leaders who was among those that jumped bail, was first to be arrested and brought to Central Police Station, Onitsha.
After he was granted bail, he went to their base in Asaba, DeltaState to celebrate his freedom with a lavish merry making, before he finally disappeared to an unknown place till date, even as the bench warrant is still hanging on his neck.
Weapons found buried inside bush According to Okeke, “after his arrest, the police invited me to come and identify him.
When Emeka Eze saw me at the station, he knelt down and asked me for forgiveness, which I promised him on condition that he would assist the police with necessary information that could lead to the arrest of others.
“Emeka Eze later took the police to Nando community in Anambra East Local Government Area of the state where their operational weapons, including the rocket launchers, general purpose machine guns, GPMGs, AK-47 riffles and other sophisticated weapons were found buried inside the bush and covered with plastic containers.
The arms were recovered and taken to the state SARS Headquarters at Awkuzu. Some suspects nabbed in Nsugbe “Because of my promise to Emeka Eze that he would regain his freedom if he offered assistance for the arrest of others, he now took the police to Nsugbe where some of the suspected gang members were arrested and taken to SARS at Awkuzu, adding that some of them were arrested in Awka and Asaba, their operational base.
“The third defendant, Alexander Onyinanya, was arrested two years after the kidnap saga because he had been on the run, adding that it was through the assistance of Chinenye Ihenko (a.k.a. Okpompi) the vigilante leader in-charge of Onitsha North, Onitsha South and some other local government areas that Onyinanya was eventually tracked down.
Relationship between me and Onyinanya “On the relationship between me and Onyinanya, he was a vigilante operative attached to my personal residence in my country home, Adazi-Ani. While Onyinanya was at Adazi-Ani, he was not always at his duty post and besides, he lived a flamboyant lifestyle that was beyond his income.
“I suspected that Onyinanya could have a direct relationship with the gang of criminals who were perpetrating incessant kidnappings and robberies that took place between 2008 and early part of 2009, which were more pronounced at Adazi-Enu, Adazi-Ani, Adazi-Nnukwu, Obeledu and other neighbouring communities.
I requested Okpompi, the vigilante leader to redeploy him and he was replaced with another operative with immediate effect. How I identified Onyinanya “The motorcycle accident Onyinanya had in 2008 while serving in my home at Adazi-Ani, for which I paid his hospital bill, made him to limp, which was why I was able to identify him as the tall member of the gang who was wearing a mask during and after my abduction.
“After their arrest between October and November, 2009, crime rate in the state dropped by 80 per cent till the end of 2010, since they were the main gang of robbers and kidnappers that terrorized the state then. “They kept calling me on phone, telling me that I was the only victim fighting them, unlike other victims who usually told them about others to kidnap and get handsome ransom.
They even made attempts on my life on three occasions which failed. This prompted me to apply to the police authorities for an escort which was approved by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP). My younger brother’s kidnap “In January 2013, some of the fleeing gang members regrouped and kidnapped my younger brother, and in mid October 2013, the same gangsters attacked one of my private Toyota SUV and riddled it with bullets, thinking I was inside the vehicle.
“More arrests have been made in respect of the kidnap of my younger brother and attack on my vehicle and very soon, the arrested suspects will be brought to the court.”
Cross-examination At this stage, the prosecution counsel, Chris Ajugwe, who was leading Okeke in his evidence-in-chief, rested his case and Oliver Oduma, counsel to the first accused, Kelechi Okafor, cross-examined Okeke briefly on the level of Okafor’s involvement in his kidnap, to which Okeke replied: “Okafor himself told me that it was the gangsters that gave him my vehicle to sell and return the proceeds to them but when he wanted to sell the vehicle and the buyers discovered that it was GUO’s vehicle, they refused to buy and even advised him (Okafor) to abandon the vehicle before he would be arrested, and he abandoned the vehicle in Badagry, Lagos State and fled.
“It was when Okafor went back to Asaba, their operational base, to narrate the development to the gang members that they arrested and handed him over to the police on framed up charges.
They suspected that Okafor might have sold the vehicle, pocketed the proceeds and came to tell them lies. “I could not identify Okafor throughout my kidnap saga until on information, I met him in police station and he personally narrated to me how they gave him the stolen vehicle to sell.”
Justice Nwankwo adjourned further hearing till December 2, 3, 4, 5 and 9 when the matter is expected to have been concluded, starting from the cross-examinations of Okeke, by both counsel to Ifeanyi Okafor, the second accused, D. U. Nwafor and counsel to Onyinanya, the third accused, Mrs. J. N. Okongwu