… says suspects collected N5m ransom on behalf of my husband’s kidnappers
By Chuks Eke
Mrs. Eucharia Agbasimalo, wife of the kidnapped Labour Party, LP governorship candidate in the November 2021 Anambra State governorship election, Obiorah Agbasimalo, has revealed how her husband’s kidnappers warned her not to involve the police and the press in search for the victim.
She also revealed how the two suspects standing trial in the kidnap case collected N5 million on behalf of the alleged kidnappers for the release of her husband, but never released him.
Testifying on Friday before an Nnewi High Court No. 1 presided over by Justice C. N. Mbonu-Nwenyi, as First Prosecution Witness, PW1, Mrs Agbasimalo also said N2.5 million was paid into the account of one of the suspects while a cash of N2.5 million was collected by him, after assuring them of the release of the victim.
She recalled how the two accused persons, Chukwudi Odimegwu and Nwokolo Maxwell, currently standing trial before the court on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnap, initially admitted knowing the whereabouts of her husband while in police custody, but later denied knowing his whereabouts when they were charged to court.
She also said the accused persons were together with her husband before his kidnap, and had warned her husband’s family not to involve the security operatives and the media saying they were constantly in touch with the alleged kidnappers.
She, therefore, asserted that the suspects were either directly or indirectly involved in the kidnap of her husband on September 18, 2021.
The LP governorship candidate in the Anambra election, Agbasimalo, was kidnapped on September 18, 2021 at Lilu community in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, while returning from a political function and has not been found till date.
In the Suit No. HIH/15C/22, the accused persons, Chukwudi Odimegwu and Nwokolo Maxwell are standing trial for alleged conspiracy and kidnap of Obiorah Agbasimalo on September 18, 2021 at Lilu in Ihiala Local Govennment Area of the Anambra State.
The Department of State Services, was the first to arraign the accused persons before a Magistrate court sitting at Awka, the state capital in 2022 in Charge No. MAW/506/2022 on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
After their charge was read, the court consequently remanded them in the prison custody without taking their plea.
According to the charge read by the DSS in court, the accused persons had on September 18, 2021 at Lilu in Ihiala Local Govennment Area of Anambra State, attacked and caused disappearance of the victim Obiorah Agbasimalo, a Labour Party, governorship candidate in the 2021 governorship elections whose whereabout is yet unknown at present.
The offences, the prosecution stated, were contrary to Sections 495 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 36, Vol. II, Revised Laws of Anambra state of Nigeria, 1991 and 315 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the Criminal Code (Amended) Law of Anambra state of Nigeria, 2009.
The Magistrate court had while remanding them in the prison custody, also ordered the police to transfer the case file to the Director of Public Prosecutions, for legal advice.
On receiving the case file, the DPP, in turn, came up with the same two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
In the charge prepared by N.J. Nwankwo Esq., the DPP alleged that while armed with guns and other offensive weapons, the accused persons kidnapped Obiorah Agbasimalo against his will and thereafter demanded for a ransom of N1 million, N5 million and another N1 million totalling N7 million from his family for his release and yet after receiving the ransom, failed to release him till date.
After giving her over two-hour testimony before the court, Mrs Agbasimalo was further cross-examined by the defence counsels after which the judge adjourned the matter to January 19, 2024, for further hearing.
After the matter was adjourned, the accused persons on handcuffs, were kept outside the court hall while other criminal cases were handled, after which they and others were taken together in a chartered shuttle bus back to Nnewi Correctional custody, by security men on mufti believed to be a combined team of policemen and prison officials.
Speaking to journalists outside the court, she said, “I have been receiving threats from unknown quarters and they have terrified me with fear, both me and my lawyer. But I know I am fighting a righteous course, it is my husband I am looking for, my husband is a good man, I cannot abandon the cost to find him, so whatever that comes, I know that God will protect me.
“I will keep appealing to the judiciary to do their best, they are my last hope to ensure that justice is served. It is bad enough, nothing will take the place of me finding my husband, if there be anybody who has been found to have a hand in his kidnap, they should face justice.”