An Otuocha High Court in Anambra State has passed a life jail sentence on a banker, Jude Onwuzuluike, who had been standing trial since February 2013 over the whereabouts of his business partner, Chinwuba Ekwenze.
Onwuzuluike, a staff of United Bank for Africa, UBA Plc, Ogboefere, Bridge-head, Onitsha, had been arraigned in the court on a one-count charge of kidnapping Ekwenze since January 14, 2013.
In her judgement, Justice J.C. Anunude, stated that all the available evidences before the court, including the investigations of the police and Department of Security Services, DSS and their written reports, proved that the convict actually lured out the victim and knew what transpired that made him to be missing up till date.
The police had in February, 2013, arrested, interrogated and arraigned Onwuzulike before the court on the charge of conspiring with others now at large to kidnap Ekwenze, a motor spare parts dealer at Nkpor, near Onitsha, an accusation Onwuzuluike pleaded not guilty.
During the trial, about six prosecution witnesses, including the police and a personnel of the Department of State Services, DSS, who investigated the matter, testified before the court against Onwuzulike who could not produce any witness at all, except his team of lawyers. While in court to testify, the DSS personnel wore a mask to avoid easy identification.
One of the prosecution witnesses and Ekwenze’s elder brother, John, told the court on oath that the summary of the reason behind Onwuzulike’s decision to kidnap and probably assassinate Ekwenze was that based on a mutual agreement reached between both parties in 2011. Ekwenze deposited the sum of N2 million with Onwuzuluike as a banker on a fixed interest rate of N100,000 every quarter.
John further told the court that in 2011 when the agreement was reached between them, Ekwenze made an initial deposit of N1.5 million and, in 2012, raised the deposit to N2 million, adding that although Onwuzulike was giving Ekwenze the agreed N100,000 every three months as interest on the deposit, Ekwenze at a stage decided to terminate the business by asking Onwuzulike to return the whole N2 million to him, to enable him acquire a piece of land and commence a housing project.