The kidnappers of two Reverend sisters and their driver along the Benin/Ore/Lagos highway, in Ondo state four years ago have been sentenced to death by hanging.
The victims include Reverend Sister Perpetual Idowu Apo, Reverend Sister Bukola Roseline Familade and their driver, Yohanna Zibai. The three convicts had collected a N1m ransom before the released of their victims which they held hostage in the bush for 11 days.
Police had initially arraigned seven persons including a couple for the kidnap of the Reverend Sisters in 2016 at Onipetesi along Ore-Lagos expressway.
The suspects who were later arrested two years after committing the offence include Reuben Akinbehinje (a.k.a Chairman), Saheed Oyewo (a.k.a Olaoluwa), Seun Lajuwomi (a.k.a Ebile), Abimbola Akinbehinje, John Imoleayo Uche (a.k.a Uchenna), Seun Iseoluwa Akintan (a.k.a Egbegbe) and Lateef Fayemi Hammed.
Police prosecutor preferred an eight-count charge of conspiracy, kidnapping, armed robbery, aiding and abetting kidnapping and accessory after the facts against them.
According to a DSS official who testified during the trial, Johnson Siunu said the kidnappers were tracked and arrested through the phone number they used to negotiate and monitor the delivery of ransom payment.
One of the seven suspect, Saheed, however, died in prison before the commencement of the matter while Abimbola Akinbehinje, wife of Reuben, who was charged with being an accessory after the fact was fined N50, 000.
According to the prosecution, Babatunde Falodun, the accused persons had allegedly conspired together and kidnapped the victims and their driver, held them hostage, for eleven days in the bush, tied together with chains and under lock until the N1 million ransom was finally agreed upon by both parties and paid to the kidnappers.
The accused persons along with other gang members who were said to be at large and armed with offensive weapons such as guns and cutlasses robbed the Reverend Sisters of their valuables such as bags, internet modem and flash, power bank and a total sum of N70,000 naira while they stripped one of them of her veil.
In the same process, they also robbed their driver, Yohanna Zibai of his handset, a sum of N5, 000 and the car keys to their vehicle.
One of the Reverend Sisters, Bukola Roseline Familade of St. Louis Convent, Zonkwa, Kaduna State while recounting their 11-day ordeal in the kidnapper’s den before the court stated that the kidnap took place when they along with their driver had to stop along the road because their car developed fault around 7 p.m. in the evening.
She stated that it was in the process of waiting for someone that would repair the vehicle that they were abducted by heavily armed gunmen.
Familade testified that the leader of the gang came to them to speak with their sisters twice on phone and at first demanded a ransom of N20 million before they would be released.
She stated that they were released 11 days later and the case was reported to the DSS office where she later identified two men as part of the gang that kidnapped them out of suspects brought out to her and wrote a statement there which was almost three weeks after their release.
Also testifying, their driver corroborated the testimony of the Reverend Sister and narrated how he was severely beaten and threatened with being shot by the gang members during the kidnapping.
He stated that he too was able to recognize two members of the gang that kidnapped them at the DSS office where he also volunteered his statements.
Delivering judgment, Justice Ademola Adegoroye said the prosecution could not produce any evidence against Seun and Lateef Fayemi and therefore discharged them.
Justice Adegoroye, however, found Reuben, Uche and Seun guilty of all the charges and sentenced them to death by hanging.
The judge said the prosecution had proved the case of conspiracy, armed robbery and kidnapping against the three convicts and sentenced them accordingly with the death penalty.