• Monday, February 26, 2024
businessday logo


As cases of abductions, killings spike: Court awards death to kidnappers, killers of Rivers’ chief

Kogi police parade suspected criminals, kidnappers

Kidnappers in Nigeria seem to get very cruel. They hardly release their victims after collecting huge sums as ransom.

The new trend seems to anger judges who now hand death sentences here and there.

Experts say many unprepared young people are flocking to the kidnap enterprise as the latest income stream where millions are made in a short time. In so doing, they seem to apply recklessness and kill off their victims for a variety of reasons, including absence of adequate warehousing facilities (prisons), being recognized by their victims, effect of drugs, and sheer wickedness.

It has also been found that in some parts of the country, kidnappers are foreigners who seem uninterested in the survival of their victims because of total lack of any feeling of nativity. Often, part payments are said to infuriate the kidnappers who finish off the victims to make do with whatever profit they made because they now see the victims as commodities, not fellow humans.

Security operatives and judges seem to lose patience with kidnap suspects and convicts. Whereas most operatives now reportedly shoot most kidnap suspects at sight when they appear convinced that such suspects actually did it, the judges now hand down hefty sentences especially deaths.

A case in hand is in Rivers State where a high court judge has handed death sentences to convicts believed to have abducted an Ahoada chief and killed and buried him in shallow grave in Degema area.

The victim was named Abbot Ogbobula. The incident took place in June 2017 when court records said he was kidnapped at Ahoada and taken by his abductors to a forest in Degema area called Manikin Bush. He was kept hostage for days but the chief eventually died in the hands of his abductors. The abduction took place about June 27, 2017 at Ihuaba community in Ahoada East. Burying him was about July 31, 2017 in Degema, according to court documents.

According to documents, he was buried in a shallow grave in the said forest but his body was later exhumed in the course of police investigations of the case.

Investigations revealed that the suspects were many but four were caught and the rap was pinned on them for trial to commence. There are Boma Thompson, Emelike Mathias, Goodnews Nwoka (alia Maximum), and Daniel Thankgod. They were charged in a 4-count charge of conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping, conspiracy to murder, and murder of the chief in Case Number PHC/628/CR/2018.

The charges bordered on Section 316 A of the Criminal Code, Rivers State, 1999; Section 1 (2) (a) of Rivers State Kidnap Prohibition Law No. 3 of 2009; and Murder contrary to Section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code Law Cap 37 Vol 2Law of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.

The charge sheets were signed by Lotorubio Esq (Director of Public Prosecution) and A.A Orugbani (Principal State Counsel for Honourable Attorney-General of Rivers State.

Trial ran since 2018 to 2024 before the justice, M.W Danagogo sitting at Court 12.

On January 18, 2024, the court delivered good news to Goodnews Nwoka alias Maximum ruling that he was not liable to count one, conspiracy to kidnap. Nwoka was represented by Augustine ‘Efe Ojekudo leading Adaeze Lawrence and M. A. Onyia. He was thus discharged and acquitted in respect of all the counts one to four of the offences of conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder of the victim.

Now, the other three were not such lucky. The judgments said in respect of count one (conspiracy to kidnap) the 1st, 2nd and 4th defendants (Boma Thompson, Emelike Mathias, and Daniel Thankgod) were convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment with no option of fine.

In respect of Count 2 (kidnapping of the late chief) the 1st, 2nd and 4th defendants were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.

In respect of Count 3 (conspiracy to murder late Ogbobula) the 1st, 2nd and 4th defendants were convicted and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment with no option of fine.

In respect of Count 4 (murder of Ogbobula) the 1st, 2nd, and 4th defendants were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging or by lethal injection.

Judicial reporters know that when a particular crime becomes too dastardly and too rampant, the Ministry of Justice of any state usually encouraged judges to hand out maximum punishments with swiftness.

That seems to be what is happening in some states where violent crimes become too horrible and rampant. In Rivers State, cult-related crimes and bloodshed seem to be the order of day. Now, judges seem to take up the red pen to hand down death sentences as their own contribution to saving the society from itself or from its criminal community.