Women leader tells court how gunmen abducted Anambra LP guber candidate

Women leader tells court how gunmen abducted Anambra LP guber candidate

Women Leader of Oga-Ndi-Oga Solidarity Movement, Mrs Ebere Okeke, on Tuesday told an Ihiala High Court sitting at Nnewi, Anambra State how the two suspects – Chukwudi Odimegwu and Maxwell Nwokolo – allegedly played certain roles in the kidnap of Obiorah Agbasimalo, the governorship candidate of the Labour Party during the 2021 governorship election in the State.

Agbasimalo was abducted on September 18, 2021, at Lilu in Ihiala Local Government Area of the State, while returning from a ceremony and his whereabouts is unknown till date.

In a Suit No.HIH/15C/22, the accused persons, Chukwudi Odimegwu and Nwokolo Maxwell are standing trial before the court for alleged conspiracy and kidnap of Agbasimalo on September 18, 2021 at Lilu in Ihiala Local Govenment Area of the Anambra State.

The Department of State Services, DSS was the first to arraign the accused persons before a Magistrate court sitting at Awka, the state capital in 2022 in Charge No. MAW/506/2022 on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.

After their charge was read, the court consequently remanded them in the prison custody without taking their plea.

According to the charge read by the DSS in court, the accused persons had on September 18, 2021 at Lilu in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, attacked and caused disappearance of the victim Obiorah Agbasimalo, a Labour Party, LP governorship aspirant in the 2021 gubernatorial elections whose whereabout is yet unknown at present.

The offences, the prosecution stated, were contrary to Sections 495 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 36, Vol. II, Revised Laws of Anambra state of Nigeria, 1991 and 315 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the Criminal Code (Amended) Law of Anambra state of Nigeria, 2009. 

The Magistrate court had while remanding them in the prison custody,  also ordered the police to transfer the case file to the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP for legal advice.

On receiving the case file, the DPP, in turn, came up with the same two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.

In the charge prepared by N.J. Nwankwo Esq., the DPP alleged that while armed with guns and other offensive weapons, the accused persons kidnapped Obiorah Agbasimalo against his will and thereafter demanded for a ransom of N1 million, N5 million and another N1 million totalling N7 million from his family for his release and yet after receiving the ransom, failed to release him till date.

But testifying before Justice C.N. Mbonu-Nwenyi, the Presiding Judge of the Ihiala High Court, sitting at Nnewi as Second Prosecution Witness, PW2, in a resumed hearing, on Tuesday, Okeke recalled the roles played by both Odimegwu and Nwokolo in the abduction saga. 

Okeke who mounted the witness box at about 10:40am, while testifying before the court, recalled that earlier on the fateful day, September 18, 2021, after the meeting of the Oga-Ndi-Oga Solidarity Movement, which is a campaign organ of Agbasimalo,  High Chief Godwin Agbasimalo, the elder brother of the abducted Labour Party candidate and sponsor of the campaign train, instructed the drivers and car owners to go to a particular petrol station and fuel their cars in preparation for the movements of the campaign train.

She said, “Soon after the instruction, the first defendant, Odimegwu dismissed the members who wanted to accompany the candidate to the campaign ground,  as directed by High Chief Godwin Agbasimalo and asked everyone to go home.

“When the first defendant, Odimegwu was asked why he decided to dismiss members of the campaign organisation, he replied that the High Chief had selected the people to go for the campaign.

“The decision of Odimegwu to dismiss other members of the campaign organisation and his instruction to members to collect bags and political materials was quite unusual, because we usually do that after outings and not before outings.”

Okeke also stated that in order to ensure the success of the hatched abduction without traces, Odimegwu left for the ceremony with the candidate alone without informing the members about their departure. 

She also told the court that Odimegwu was giving some people direction through telephone calls placed on his ear by one “Ebony” who was one of the occupants of their vehicle and it was on a speak-out.

Okeke said that the defendant was giving the abductors direction until they reached Azia where he stopped answering nor picking his calls.

The Woman Leader also testified that when they reached a place, one Kosisochukwu Oyeudo, the girl friend of Chukwudi Odimegwu broke the news that Chief Obiorah Agbasimalo had been kidnapped.

During the cross examination by B I. Nkememena the counsel to one of the defendants who asked her if she could recognise Nwokolo, Okeke stated that after the kidnap of Obiorah Agbasimalo, the second defendant, Nwokolo called her on telephone and requested her to become his girlfriend and at the same time, warned her to avoid associating with Odimegwu, the first defendant because he had queer characters.

Okeke said, “But in my reply, I told him, ‘I don’t know you’. He then sent his picture to my phone with stern warning again that I should  avoid Chukwudi Odimegwu because he is a dangerous person”.

“He also told me that Chukwudi Odimegwu was the person who kidnapped Agbasimalo and that I should not panic, that once Oga-Ndi-Oga, the campaign sponsor brings the money the kidnappers requested from him, he would be released because all they wanted was just to collect money from the sponsor, High Chief Godwin Agbasimalo. (Oga ndi Oga). 

“Nwokolo told me that he went to the camp where Agbasimalo was kept to give him his inhaler because he is an asthmatic patient, I was happy to hear that and I praised God because there were speculations by then that Agbasimalo had been killed by his abductors inside the camp.

“Nwokolo claimed that some indigenes of Ezinifte where High Chief Godwin Agbasimalo Oga-Ndi-Oga and his younger brother/LP candidate, Obiorah hail from, also had hands in his kidnap saga and as such they didn’t want him to be freed or else he would expose them.”

After further cross-examination by the defence counsel, the presiding Judge, Justice Mbonu-Nwenyi discharged Okeke from the witness box and adjourned the matter till Friday, March 22, for further hearing.

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