Mrs. Eucharia Agbasimalo, the wife of Obiorah Agbasimalo, the Labour Party candidate who was abducted during the November 2021 Anambra State governorship election, has revealed that the two individuals currently facing trial in the kidnapping case received N5 million on behalf of the alleged kidnappers in exchange for her husband’s release.
She said N2.5m was paid into the account of one of the suspects, while the sum of N2.5m was also collected by him after promising to release the victim but never did.
Eucharia stated this on Friday while testifying before a Nnewi High Court, presided over by Justice C. N. Mbonu-Nwenyi, as a First Prosecution Witness.
The LP governorship candidate in the Anambra election, Agbasimalo, was kidnapped on September 18, 2021, at Lilu community in the Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, while returning from a political function and has not been found to date.
His wife recalled how the two accused persons, Chukwudi Odimegwu, and Nwokolo Maxwell, initially admitted knowing the whereabouts of her husband while in police custody, but later denied being aware when they were charged in court.
Eucharia added that the accused persons were together with her husband before his kidnap and warned her husband’s family not to security operatives and the media involved, saying they were constantly in touch with the kidnappers.
Speaking to journalists outside the court, Eucharia 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 cause.
“It is my husband that I am looking for. My husband is a good man. I can’t abandon the cause to find him. 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 is anybody who has been found to have a hand in his kidnap, they should face justice.”
In the Suit No. HIH/15C/22, the accused persons, Chukwudi Odimegwu and Nwokolo Maxwell are standing trial for the alleged conspiracy and kidnap of Obiorah Agbasimalo on September 18, 2021, at Lilu in Ihiala LGA.
The Department of State Services was the first to arraign the accused persons before a Magistrate court sitting at Awka 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 prison custody without taking their plea.
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, 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 N1m, N5m and another N1m, totalling N7m from his family to have him released, 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.