By Moji Eniola
Ikeja – Two men — Etenbom Udoh and David Udoh — are to die by hanging for armed robbery, an Ikeja High Court ruled on Wednesday.
Both men, who are not of the same family, were also sentenced to 21 years imprisonment each for kidnapping.
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, who handed down the verdict, also sentenced a woman, 30-year-old Eno Victor, to 21-years for kidnapping.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Eno was, however, acquitted of armed robbery charge after Justice Ipaye found no evidence linking her to the crime.
The trio was arraigned on July 31, 2013 on a three-count charge of conspiracy, kidnapping and armed robbery, which they denied.
While sentencing the convicts, Ipaye said the stiff punishments should send a signal to the streets of Lagos that there would be zero tolerance for such heinous crimes.
“The first, second and third defendants were all part of a criminal enterprise, instead of choosing a honest living, they chose a path of extreme violence, leaving a trail of grief and pain in their wake.
“It also came to the notice of this court during the trial that the defendants were serial offenders specialising in kidnapping.
“Eno Victor, Etenbom Udoh and David Udoh are hereby found guilty of kidnapping.
“They are sentenced to 21 years in prison for the charge which is contrary to Section 269 (3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.
“Etenbom Udoh and David Udoh are found guilty of armed robbery contrary to Section 295 (2)(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.
“You are both to be hung by the neck till you are dead, may the Lord have mercy on your souls,” the judge said.
NAN reports that following the pronouncement, Eno wept uncontrollably while the faces of Udohs were expressionless as they were handcuffed and hauled out of the courtroom by prison officials.
According to the state prosecution team led by Mr Akin George, the convicts kidnapped Mr Olurinde Ojerinde, a 45-year-old financial adviser, from his home in Okota, Lagos.
“Eno, is a saleswoman, who gave her address as No. 42, Lambeth Road, Lambe, Ogun while Etenbom and David are both commercial motorcyclists, both reside at No. 45, Valley Estate, Magnus Martins St., Akute, Lagos.
“Eno’s husband, Sunday Victor, was the ringleader of the syndicate which specialised in kidnapping individuals within the Lagos metropolis and demanding huge ransoms from their loved ones.
“Sunday Victor was killed by policemen during a shoot-out while they were being apprehended,” he said.
Explaining Ojerinde’s kidnap, George said: “In the evening of Oct. 22, 2012, Ojerinde was driving to his home located at Okota Lagos.
“Unknown to him, he was being trailed by some men in a car consisting of the second and third defendants as well as the late Sunday Victor.
“As Ojerinde drove into his premises, the men who were trailing him, drove in with him and while armed with guns and forced him into the back seat of his car and drove off.
“The car was stolen, it was an Acura TL saloon car with registration no. APP 504 AH, he was blindfolded and taken to the home of their ringleader.
“Ojerinde was chained and beaten; they also threatened to kill him during the ordeal which lasted a few days.
“His phone was stolen and he was forced to give his abductors personal information as well as the numbers of his loved ones including his wife.
“The abductors demanded the sum of N50 million as ransom.”
The prosecutor said Ojerinde escaped when Eno, who was assigned to watch over Ojerinde, left the doors to their apartment open when she went to buy food.
“Ojerinde noticed that the doors to the apartment were open and that there was an unusual silence in the house.
“Taking a big risk of his life, he crept out of the room and passed some of the kidnappers, who were all fast asleep in the living room.
“As soon as he was out of the house, he ran as fast as he could and was assisted by some members of the public to the nearest police station.
“While he had escaped, the kidnappers were still calling Ojerinde’s loved ones, demanding the ransom and threatening to kidnap him again,” he said.
George said that Ojerinde was able to lead a team of policemen to the house where he was held in Akute area of Lagos, leading to the convicts being apprehended.
Just before the sentence was passed, Eno’s counsel, Mr Joseph Olumudi, urged the judge to temper justice with mercy.
“It is my humble plea that the court should temper justice with mercy on the first defendant.
“Durng the course of investigation, two souls were lost — her husband and her only son.
“She has been in custody for four years and she has learnt a bitter lesson,” Olumudi said.
Mr Simon Okeke, counsel to Etenbom and David, also pleaded for mercy for them, saying the convicts are young men with many fruitful years ahead of them.
“They are young men in their prime, circumstances may have led them to do what they did.
“They should be given another opportunity, they have been in custody for a long time,” Okeke said.