Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, August 8, sentenced five persons to death by hanging for kidnapping and murdering a Shell staff, named Anthony Okoro.
The five defendants out of seven persons in suit number PHC/324/2017, are Oluchi Charles (1st defendant), Miracle Anumuna (2nd defendant), Ifeanyi Simon (3rd defendant), Koko Basset (4th defendant) and Uchenna Stanley Amaechi (7th defendant).
They were convicted of the 10 charges preferred against them by the Inspector General of Police bordering on conspiracy, stealing, armed robbery, kidnapping and murder.
Chukwudi Etete (5th defendant) and Anthony Ugwu (6th defendant), the remaining two persons mentioned in the suit, were discharged and acquitted by the court.
The suspects had on May 29, 2016, attacked the home of one Anthony Okoro, a staff of Shell Petroleum Development Company, in Woji area of Port Harcourt. The suspects reportedly shot the victim and carried his body away with his Range Rover SUV. The deceased’s Kia Optima car, television sets, infinix phone and other valuables were also taken away by the suspects.
The trial judge, Justice George Omereji, in his verdict yesterday, held that the prosecution proved its case that the first to fourth and seventh defendants were as guilty as charged. Omereji, in discharging and acquitting the fifth and sixth defendants, stated that the prosecution could not prove that they had knowledge of the crime, rather they unknowingly bought phones belonging to the victim.
The judge also held that the prosecution proved the case of conspiracy against the convicts.
“It was proven that the convicts had met at Genesis area of Woji in Port Harcourt and planned the kidnap of Okoro and the death of the victim was caused by the convicts,” the judge said.
The trial judge also noted that the prosecution also proved that the death of the victim was caused by the suspects, regretting that Anthony Okoro was shot on his arm and taken away with his cars and other valuables by the suspects.
Omereji, who based his ruling on Section 410 of the Administration of Criminal Justice 2011, sentenced the five convicted persons to death by hanging, adding that they should be held on the rope till they are confirmed dead.
The prosecution counsel, I. Ubulom, described it as justice done. He said the verdict would serve as a deterrent to others involved in criminal activities.