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Kidnap kingpin, Evans’ accomplice Udeme Upong, bags 5 years imprisonment

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of a Special Offences Court has sentenced Udeme Upong, one of the co-defendants standing trial alongside a kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, known as Evans to five years imprisonment.

Justice Taiwo gave the verdict after the defendant changed his plea of ‘not guilty’ to ‘guilty’.

Udeme Frank Upong, Evans, Joseph Ikenna Emeka, and Chiemeka Arinze were arraigned on a seven-count charge of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to kidnap and selling of firearms.

They were alleged to have attempted the kidnapping of Vincent Obianodo, Chairman of the Young Shall Grow Motors.

At the last adjourned date, it was reported that one of the defendants, Chiemeka Arinze passed away on November 26 as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest caused by AIDS.

When the matter came up today, A. B. Josiah, lawyer representing Udeme Frank Upong informed the court of his intention to change his plea. Subsequently, the judge ordered the state counsel to review the fact of the case.

Reviewing the case, Dr Babjide Martins who led the prosecution team informed the court that Udeme Upong made a statement saying he sold 2 AK 47 and 270 live ammunition to the kidnap kingpin, explaining that he got the weapon from his village where it was usually used for inter-communal crises.

He said that they agreed on ₦400,000 for the 2 ammunitions but the defendant paid him ₦200,000 and sent one Emeka to collect the firearms.

Dr Martins told the court that the defendant’s statement has been admitted in evidence. He told the court that the defendant was charged under firearm act Section 92 and punishable under Section B.

“Under the said law it’s five years imprisonment maximum. We are not aware of any of his previous convictions” he stressed, urging the court to convict the defendant accordingly.

Subsequently, the court found Udeme Upong guilty as charged and convicted him.

In an alocutus plea, the defendant’s lawyer appealed to the court to consider the change of plea of the defendant as a remorseful act for not continuing to waste the time of the court and taxpayers money. He also urged the court to consider the fact that the defendant has been in detention since July 6, 2017, which is almost the length of his sentence.

He further appealed to the court to temper mercy and give the defendant a lenient sentence as a first offender.

In his judgement, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo sentenced the defendant to five years imprisonment which reads from the date of his remand in prison on July 6, 2017.

Reporting by Wahab Akinlade; editing by Muzha Kucha