Court Remands Alleged Kidnappers of Tulip School Students in Kuje Prison

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Abuja division of the Federal High Court yesterday ordered the remand of alleged kidnappers of five students and two officials of the Nigerian/Tulip International College in Kuje Prisons till September 28 when their trial would commence.

Justice John Tsoho ordered the remand of the five suspects following their arraignment by the federal government on a five count criminal charge bordering on abduction and hostage taken.

The accused, Bekewei Agbojule (a.k.a Asari), Egbasimokumo Ayeomi (a.k.a Effiong), Godspower Olopele, Toki Okuba and Super Allen Baye (a.k.a Yanga), were alleged to have forcefully taken hostage five students and two staff members of Nigeria/Tulip International College, Isheri, Ogun State, on January 13, 2017.

They however, pleaded not guilty to the five charges read against them.
Prosecution counsel, Aminu Alilu, then urged the court to remand the suspects in prison pending the commencement of trial.

Responding, the trial judge, Justice Tsoho, adjourned the matter till September 28, 2017.
It would be recalled that the federal government was unable to arraign the suspects last Tuesday when the case was first mentioned due to the absence of an interpreter.

They defendants have told the court that their appreciation of the English language was poor and would therefore need someone to interpret to them in Pidgin English.

The matter was then adjourn to June 21 (yesterday) to enable the court provide an interpreter.
In a short ruling last Tuesday, Justice Tsoho said: “It is regretted that the court could not provide an interpreter to translate proceedings to Pidgin English, therefore court adjourns to tomorrow to look for a competent and unbiased interpreter.”

The court however was yesterday able to provide competent and unbiased interpreter to enable them take their plea.
They were alleged to be involved in the acts of hostage taking and receiving of ransom,  acts of terrorism punishable by life imprisonment under the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013.

In the five-count charge preferred against the defendants, the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the prosecuting agency, alleged that they conspired among themselves and with others at large, and demanded N800million as ransom after they seized and detained their victims.
They were said to have demanded N800m as ransom, but later reduced it to N50million which they allegedly received before releasing the victims.

The seven pupils and staff members of the college allegedly abducted by the defendants were Stephanie Nwosu, Zainab Olatubosun, Rebecca Agodi, Radiyan Aminu, Rashidat Ibrahim, Hanat Aderinto and Deriyo Yaziel.
The prosecution also alleged in counts four and five that the same set of defendants, along with others at large, on December 16, 2016, at Asolo Bridge, Ikorodu expressway, Lagos, seized at gun point one Joshua Olayinka Audu , Rita Morah, Kendra Abiose and four others.

The defendants were said to have after seizing the six victims in Ikorodu, gone ahead to detain them at Ibafo Creek, Ogun State.

They allegedly demanded a ransom of N2million from the family members of the victims and received the money before releasing the abductees.

The prosecution alleged that the offence of conspiracy to commit hostage taking was an act of terrorism contrary to section 17 of St Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013, and punishable under the same section of the Act.
It alleged that other offences of seizing, hostage taking and demanding ransom were also acts of terrorism said to be contrary to 15 (1) of Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, and punishable under the same section of the Act.

Parts of the charges read: “That you, Bekewei Agbojule alias Asari, of College Road Abapa/Arogbo, Ondo State; Egbasimokumo Ayeomi, alias Effiong of Opuba village, Arogbo town, Ondo State; Godspower Olopele of Araromi Majidun, Ikorodu, Lagos; Toki Okuba of Ijaw village behind Opic Estate, Isheri, Ogun State and Super Allen Baye a.k.a Yanga of Opuba village, Arogbo, Ondo State, on or about January 13, 2017, at Nigeria/Tulip International College, Isheri, Ogun State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire among yourselves and others at large to commit an offence to wit: hostage taking.

“That you, Bekewei Agbojule, alias Asari, of College Road Abapa/Arogbo, Ondo State; Egbasimokumo Ayeomi, alias Effiong of Opuba village, Arogbo town, Ondo State; Godspower Olopele of Araromi Majidun, Ikorodu, Lagos; Toki Okuba of Ijaw village behind Opic Estate, Isheri, Ogun State and Super Allen Baye a.k.a Yanga of Opuba village, Arogbo, Ondo State, on or about January 13, 2017, at Nigeria/Tulip International College, Isheri, Ogun State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did commit an offence to wit: hostage taking in that you seized some staff and students of Nigeria/Tulip International College, Isheri, Ogun State, namely, Nwosu Stephanie, Olatubosun Zainab, Agodi Rebecca, Radiyan Aminu, Rashidat Ibrahim, Aderinto Hanat and Deriyo Yaziel at gun point  to compel their family members to pay ransom before releasing them.