By Sunmola Olowookere
Following the botched kidnap of late Hon. Olumide Odimayo and his eventual murder in Igbotu, Ese-Odo local government area of Ondo State, which was widely reported in the media in June last year, three men suspected to be involved in the crime have been dragged before an Akure High Court.
The three men of Ijaw descent, David Seimyengha, Fikesei Inuesokan and Bekewei Francis, were all arrested by the men of the Divisional Police stations at Ajagba and Igbotu in Ese-Odo local government, following investigation by a combined team of the Navy, police and the community people.
The three men were dragged to court on a four-count charge of conspiracy, illegal possession of firearms, kidnap and murder; allegations they all pleaded ” not guilty,” when the charges were read to them.
According to the charges, the trio were alleged to have kidnapped Hon Olumide Odimayo, a politician, while heavily armed with firearms and later dumped inside the river which purportedly led to his death.
Leading the prosecution, Mrs Adebola Ojajuni of the Department of Public Prosecution in the state’s Ministry of Justice, called the prosecution’s first witness, one Dr. Olujimi Johnson Kufo, a chartered accountant, who was a cousin to the deceased.
Testifying before the court, Kufo stated that the deceased just relocated from overseas to the village three years prior to his kidnap.
He said that on the 15th of June, he received a call from Igbotu that his cousin had been kidnapped and immediately he called the DPO in the area to report the case.
He stated that on his way from Lagos to the village, a call came through from his kidnapped cousin, who begged him to cooperate with his abductors who were demanding for a 50 million naira ransom before the victim could be released.
Kufo testified further that as he negotiated the ransom with their spokesman, he heard the cries of his cousin as he was being beaten.
At Ajagba; a village close to Igbotu, he said that he met the combined forces searching for the deceased.
He said that he was there when the phone of one of the kidnappers who had been killed when the people and the police gave the kidnappers a hot chase in a bid to rescue the victim, rang.
He stated that someone who understands Arogbo was chosen to pick the call and pretend to be his son as the deceased kidnapper seemed to be of Ijaw descent.
According to Kufo the phone call was discovered to be from his father who, still ignorant about his son’s demise, urged him to stay hidden till the search for his group quietens.
He stated that having gotten the name of the caller from the phone, he proceeded to the palace of the Ababa of Ajagba to seek his intervention in locating the father of the deceased kidnapper.
He explained that the father was invited the following day through the head of the Ijaw community in the town.
He explained further that upon the father’s confirmation that he was the father of the deceased kidnapper and that he had placed the call, he was immediately arrested by the police.
He is the first defendant in the case.
The witness testified further that following his arrest, a woman who claimed to be his wife came to the police station, crying and lamenting to the two DPOs that the person who brought the kidnap deal to her husband was someone who was doing timber business with the deceased.
She had spilled that he told her husband that the man was a “Londoner” who just came home and had plenty of money. She also mentioned the name of the timber contractor to the police during her confession.
The police also arrested the contractor and he is the second defendant in the case.
All through those days, he explained that they were still searching for the deceased as the two accused persons who were in the police net by then, gave clues as to how he could be found, as they admitted that he was left half dead inside the river.
Dr. Kufo testified further that when they followed the direction in which the accused persons had given them, they did not go far before they found the corpse of the deceased inside the river.
He harzarded a guess that from the look of the corpse, it would have been up to five days that it had been dropped at the spot.
He said that the corpse was recovered and deposited at the morgue, after which an autopsy was carried out on it.
He also stated that the police later nabbed the third accused person during their investigation of the case.
The defense counsel, E. O Festus cross-examined the witness on his testimony and he tried to establish that none of his clients was arrested at the scene of crime.
After the cross-examination, the prosecuting counsel applied for an adjournment to enable her present the remaining prosecution witnesses in the case.
The presiding judge, Justice S.A Bola then adjourned the case till November 7, 2018 for further hearing.