By Thompson Yamput
Lokoja, Kogi State – In a recent legal development, a High Court in Lokoja has discharged and acquitted two individuals accused of kidnapping due to the presence of contradictory evidence provided by the prosecution. Justice I.A. Jamil, presiding over the case, attributed the court’s decision to the prosecution’s failure to present a coherent case, which cast doubt on the allegations against the suspects.
Harrison Orubabe and Justice Yakubu faced a three-count charge of conspiracy, kidnapping, and robbery, contravening sections 97(1), 48(a)(b), and 298(a) of the Kogi Penal Code Law 2019. The prosecution, led by P.B. Daudu, initiated the case against them on January 19, but their case was ultimately marred by inconsistencies.
Daudu had relied on confessional statements made by the accused, as conveyed by Police IPO (PW2). This testimony suggested that the defendants had kidnapped Prosper Obanla on February 28, 2022, in Obajana, Kogi, and transported him to Warri, Delta State. Additionally, they allegedly demanded a one-million-naira ransom from the victim’s father, Chief Olusegun Obanla (PW1), with a threat to harm his son.
However, during the defense’s objection and cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, including the victim (PW3), a significant discrepancy emerged. The victim vehemently denied ever having been to Warri, as asserted by the police IPO (PW2). Barrister Martin Atojoko and Philip Idiok, the defense counsels, highlighted another inconsistency, suggesting that the victim had orchestrated his own kidnapping to extort money from his father in order to purchase a new phone.
The court was confronted with contradictory evidence when Yakubu’s confession implied that he and the victim had visited the Itakpe Train Station in Kogi, where the victim boarded a train to Warri, Delta. He claimed the victim had given him N1,000 to return to Obajana. This purportedly staged kidnapping yielded a ransom of N200,000 paid by Prosper’s father, Chief Olusegun Obanla.
Justice Jamil emphasized the importance of consent or lack thereof in a kidnapping case, asserting that it is a crucial element of the offense. He noted that the court had significant doubts regarding whether PW3 (the victim) had been forcibly confined by the accused or had willingly participated in the incident. When a court harbors uncertainty about a material fact necessary for proving a defendant’s guilt, it cannot issue a conviction.
Furthermore, Justice Jamil found it difficult to accept one version of events over the other. He cited the victim’s statement that the incident was not a kidnapping but a ruse to secure money from his father. These conflicting pieces of evidence had been presented by the prosecution.
The judge concluded that the prosecution had succeeded in raising doubts about the allegations. As a result, the court ruled in favor of the accused, determining that the prosecution had not proven the charges against the two suspects beyond a reasonable doubt.
In his verdict, Justice Jamil declared, “Consequently, the two defendants are hereby discharged and acquitted.”
Following the judgment, defense counsel Martin Atojoko commended the decision, praising the judge’s wisdom in rendering the verdict. He described it as a triumph for the judiciary and the common man, whose faith lies in the legal system.
News source: The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)