Mr. James Uduji
A witness, Izuchukwu Ezeuko, on Thursday told an Igbosere High Court in Lagos how he dropped $1 million dollar ransom for the alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans.
The ransom was to save Mr. James Uduji, then held hostage by Evans.
Ezeuko, a manager in Uduji’s firm, made the revelation while giving evidence at the ongoing trial of Evans.
The manager, who was the fifth witness in the trial, said he agreed to travel from Lagos to the South East to drop the ransom in order to save his boss’ life.
Evans is facing two separate charges bordering on conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping and attempted murder before Justice Adedayo Akintoye.
In the first charge, Evans is standing trial alongside Joseph Emeka, Ugochukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba.
In the second charge, he is standing trial alongside Joseph Emeka, Linus Okpara and Victor Aduba.
At the resumed trial of the case on Thursday, Ezeuko narrated how he paid one million dollar ransom in two tranches of 800,000 and 200,000 dollars to the kidnappers of his employer.
The witness said that on Sept. 7, 2015, his employer came to the factory at Agbara as usual.
According to him, at 5.00 p.m. he got a call that his employer who had left the factory for home was kidnapped.
However, after some weeks of the alleged kidnap, on Oct. 10, 2015, he got a call from a private number, who said he should speak with his boss.
“My boss then spoke to me and said if I want him alive, I should go to the East to deliver money to the alleged kidnappers.
“I went to Festac Town and met Mr Edwin Uduji, the victim’s brother, who arranged the first 800, 000 dollars for me to travel with.
“On October 11, I drove to the East with the victim’s elder sister, and in the East, a voice gave us instructions on how to drop the money,’’ Ezeuko said.
He said they were made to drive round Anambra from Awka to Ozubulu, also to Ekwuluobia and the environs until they were asked to stop at Oba.
“It was at Oba that the voice asked the victim’s sister to come down from the vehicle with the money.
“The voice directed her to an uncompleted building where she dropped the money. It was dark so we did not see the person who picked the money,’’ Ezeuko told the court.
He said two weeks after the 800, 000 dollar ransom was dropped and the kidnappers released his boss.
However, towards the end of October, his boss asked him to take another 200, 000 dollars to the kidnappers because the kidnappers were still threatening his life.
Ezeuko said he took the money down to East and was asked to drop it on the Onitsha expressway by the voice that gave him instructions.
However, during cross-examination, counsel to Evans, Mr Olarewaju Ajanaku, asked Ezeuko if he informed the police that such ransom was to be paid or gave the call logs of the person he interacted with to the police.
The witness said he did not inform the police about the ransom before paying and did not give the call logs to the police.
However, another witness, Sgt. Kingsley Harold, gave evidence concerning the first charge, in which Evans is standing trial alongside Joseph Emeka, Ugochukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba, over the kidnap of Mr Donatus.
Harold said after Evans was arrested, he was asked to make a statement at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) office in Ikeja but Evans said he was not “too good” in writing.
He said Evans, however, asked him to write the statement for him, adding that the statement was recorded in an open office in the presence of senior police officers and other people who came to the office for other cases.
He said the statement was recorded in a conducive environment between 2.00 pm and 3.00 pm, adding that the defendant was cautioned before making the statement.
However, the defendant’ s counsel opposed the admissibility of such statement and a trial-within-trial was conducted to ascertain the admissibility of such evidence.
After listening to the arguments, Justice Akintoye adjourned until Oct. 8 for continuation of trial.