A High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has convicted and sentenced three men to 14 years imprisonment without an option of fine for kidnapping an 83-year-old woman identified as Theresa Nwosu.
The convicts: Kelechi Nnaji, Bright Anele, Onyebuchi Nweke and Confidence Ozuowu, were arrested and arraigned on three counts of kidnapping, conspiracy and possession of illegal firearms following the abduction of the woman on September 22, 2015 in Obite, in Okehi community, Etche Local Government Area, Rivers State.
In his judgement, the trial Judge, Justice Boma Diepiri, found Nnaji, Anele and Nweke guilty of the crime, but discharged and acquitted Ozuowu.
The Judge in his verdict said the prosecution was able to prove the case of kidnapping and conspiracy against the convicts beyond every reasonable doubt.
Speaking outside the courtroom, the lawyers for the defendants, Chioma Chukwu and Stanley Amadi-Igwe, commended the Judge but stated that they might appeal the judgment after studying it.
Amadi-Igwe said, “The terms of appeal is what I will consider with my clients. But I have to thank the court because it has been a very long run and difficult case. But it is okay.”
The prosecution lawyer from the Rivers State Ministry of Justice, Chidi Eke, said the sentence should have been life imprisonment according to the laws of Rivers State.
Eke said, “It was a case of kidnapping and conspiracy. Today, the judgment was given. The three of them were convicted and sentenced accordingly, while the fourth defendant was discharged and acquitted.
“As sound as the judgment is, I have a little problem with it, with respect to the sentence. The law provides that upon conviction for kidnapping in Rivers State the punishment is life imprisonment without an option of fine.
“So I was taken aback when the sentence was reduced to 14 years imprisonment for each of them. I will not appeal against that, but I can only appeal against that if they appeal against their conviction; then I will cross appeal against their sentence.”