Five Nigerian nationals and their Gambian accomplice were yesterday convicted and sentenced for abduction by the Special Criminal Court, presided over by Justice Joseph Ikpala.
The accused persons, Joseph Okeke, Nonso Mbosah, Anuwa Ibiam, Arinze Izuchukwu, Pius Patrick, both Nigerians, and Awa Touray, a Gambian, were said to have abducted one Justin Leibig, an Australian national, sometime in 2009 at Kololi and subjected him to grievous harm.
The accused persons were convicted on four counts out of the ten counts preferred against them.
The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th accused persons were convicted on count one to a fine of D20,000 each in default to serve seven years in prison.
On count two the 5th accused was fined D3,000 in default to serve seven years in prison, while the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 7th accused persons were fine D20,000 each in default to serve seven years in prison.
On count three the accused were fined D25,000 each in default they would serve ten years in prison.
On count four they were fined D 10,000, each in default they would serve three years in prison.
All sentences are to run concurrently.
Meanwhile, the sixth accused person was discharged and acquitted on all the counts.
In delivering his judgment, the trial judge stated that the convicted persons were first arraigned at the Bundung Magistrates’ Court on 11 February 2009, and the case was later transferred to the Special Criminal Court.
He said the prosecution had called 14 witnesses in support of their case and tendered several exhibits, adding that following the closure of the prosecution’s case the defence filed a no-case-to-answer submission, which was overruled.
Still in his judgment, the judge stated that all the accused persons entered into their defence, except the sixth accused who preferred not to enter into his defence and rested his case on the case of the prosecution.
The trial judge further adduced that the prosecutor had filed a written brief, adding that there was a contradiction between the evidence of PW3 and PW10.
However, he said, the evidence of PW1 was so strong and creditable that it cannot be ignored, adding that the prosecution had succeeded in proving their case beyond all reasonable doubts against the convicted persons and he, therefore, found them guilty, except the sixth accused person.
The police who apprehended the suspects stated that the 71-year-old Australian national, Justin Liebig, was held captive from 1st to 9th February 2009.