Ikechukwu Okere, personal driver to Chief Godwin Ubaka Okeke, Chairman of GUO Motors Limited, yesterday, at an Onitsha High Court II presided over by Justice Alexander Okuma, gave a graphic account of how some of the suspected kidnappers abducted Okeke, on Sunday, August 23, 2009, in the premises of All Saints Anglican Church Cathedral, Onitsha, Anambra State.
He also explained how he personally drove the vehicle that took the unspecified amount of ransom to the kidnappers the next day for Okeke to be released from their captivity.
Testifying before the court as second prosecution witness at a resumed hearing of the proceeding in the case against three accused persons, including Kelechi Okafor, Anthony Okafor and Alexander Onyinanya, who are currently standing trial for allegedly participating in Okeke’s kidnap, Okere said Lady Pat Okeke, wife of the kidnap victim, sent him out on a Monday evening, a day after the kidnap, to take the bag containing the ransom to wherever the kidnappers wanted it and deliver it to them, so her husband could be released.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Chris Ajugwe, Okere said as he was driving out with an SUV containing the ransom, Okeke’s wife gave him the phone number of the kidnappers and instructed him to be in constant contact with them until the money was delivered safely to them, so they would in turn release Okeke from their captivity.
He said he was accompanied on the journey by one Daniel Okeke, adding that on contacting them on phone, the kidnappers directed him to come to Nkwo Nnewi Triangle and meet with them, and that on getting to the Triangle, they directed him to Nnobi.
He said on getting to Nnobi, the kidnappers wasted some time and told him to drive back to Nnewi, noting that on getting back to Nnewi, they told him to drive to Agulu
He said when he got to Agulu, they told him to come back to Nnobi with his roof light and one-way trafficator switched on for proper identification.
He said on his way to Nnobi, the kidnappers blocked him at a place very close to Okacha Junction, adding that as they alighted from their own vehicle, they starting shooting sporadically with all their headlamps on.
Okere said as they were shooting, some commuters plying the road abandoned their vehicles with headlamps on and ran into the bush.
He said the second defendant, Anthony Ifeanyi Okafor, and other members of his gang, immediately ordered him to open the SUV boot which he did, following which he dropped his gun and inspected the bag containing the ransom.
He said the kidnappers collected the SUV keys and drove off with the vehicle, leaving their own vehicle for him and Okeke who they just freed from their captivity.
Also in a cross-examination by Uchenna Nwafor, counsel to the second defendant, Anthony Ifeanyi Okafor, Okere insisted that it was Anthony Ifeanyi that inspected the bag containing the ransom and at a stage, asked him to get out, adding that when eventually Anthony Ifeanyi was arrested and detained at Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Awkuzu, he was invited to identify him.
Okere also informed the court in a cross-examination by Jideofor Okongwu, counsel to the third defendant, Alexander Onyinanya, that Onyinanya was a former member of staff of Onitsha North Vigilante Operatives who worked at Okeke’s home town, Adazi-Ani, before he was posted out.
He added that Onyinanya even visited Okeke’s home town barely a week or two before the August 23, 2009, kidnap to see a fellow vigilante operative, known as Nwa-Baby.
The presiding Judge, Justice Okuma, adjourned the case for an accelerated hearing for seven days, four days in June and three days in July, starting from June 15, for continuation of evidences of more prosecution witnesses and possibly defence witnesses.