Men convicted for ‘Takoradi kidnapped girls’ given death penalty

The two accused standing trial over the Takoradi kidnapped girls incident have been sentence to death.

The jury found them guilty of all the eight counts including, conspiracy to commit murder and murder.

Justice Richard Adjei Frimpong, a Sekondi High Court Judge who presided over the trial delivering the judgement of the court said, “If you murder, you suffer death”.

The High Court Judge earlier read a three hour summary of all proceedings culminating into why the two suspects; Samuel Odeutek and John Oji should suffer death like their victims.

The court said there was enough circumstantial evidence of various forms and also in the form of Facebook chats, audio recordings, and their confessions to each other incriminating them of the crime of kidnap and subsequent murder of the girls who went missing between August and December 2018.

Meanwhile, the general court atmosphere was very calm with a few family members present.

The father of Priscilla Bentum one of the victims prayed the court not to end with the jail term, but trace all involved in the syndicate.

The two Nigerians, Samuel Udoetuk Wills and John Oji, were before the Sekondi High Court in connection with the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the four girls in Takoradi.

They pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The court heard 23 witnesses during the trial, lawyers for the accused persons were asked by the court to close their defence after trial, of which, the court set, March 5, 2021 as the ‘judgment’ day.

Prior to the judgement, the Prosecution and the lawyers for the two Nigerians were asked to make oral addresses to the Court last Wednesday.

However, the defence lawyers, George Essilfu-Ansah and Mark Bosia of the Legal Aid representing Udoetuk Wills and Oji respectively, were not in court on Wednesday.

The court had to adjourn the trial to Thursday, March 4, to enable the defence lawyers to file and give their oral addresses to the court prior to the judgement, but the two lawyers were again absent when the case was called, but a new lawyer, Samuel Agbota representing the second accused was present.

The trial judge, Justice Richard Adjei-Frimpong who was visibly not happy about the absence of the two defence lawyers, then asked the prosecution led by Chief State Attorney, Patience Klinogo to give her oral address.

She said the four girls were living with their individual parents and guardians at various places in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis.

She said later events indicates that the girls were all kidnapped and that in each case the kidnapper called the parents on different days to inform them that their daughters had been kidnapped.

She said the kidnappers also demanded various sums of money from the parents as ransom, which the parents paid but none of the girls were released.

She said the parents later reported to the Police and Police intelligence led to the arrest of the first accused person, Samuel Udoetuk Wills on December 2, 2018.

The prosecution said upon further investigations, the first accused mentioned the second accused, John Oji as his accomplice.

“So on June 4, 2019, John Oji was also arrested at Aflao”, she said.

She said facebook chats between the two revealed discussions about killings, blood sacrifice and killing for money.

The state Attorney said, the second accused admitted having visited the first accused in Takoradi in the first week of December 2018 in his cautioned statement to the police.

She said the second accused told the Police the first accused took him to an environment which he was not comfortable with of which Udoetuk told him that he had killed someone there.

The Chief State Attorney said the disclosure and other Facebook chats between the accused persons made the police to intensify their search around the residence of Udoetuk.

She said between 2nd and 6th August, 2019, the police discovered some skeletal remains in a septic tank at the residence of the first accused at Kansaworodo, near Takoradi and also in a well around an uncompleted building where the first accused was re-arrested after escaping from lawful custody.

She said a DNA test was conducted on the remains and that DNA samples of the relatives of the four girls were marched to that of the skeletal remains where it was revealed that the remains were that of the four missing girls.

She said the assertion by the accused persons that the statements and admissions they made to the Police were done under duress, was untrue.

She then prayed the jury and the court to declare the accused persons guilty as charged.

Mr. Samuel Agbota, the new lawyer who stood in for Mark Bosia, representing the second accused person told the court that “We are all traumatized with the events leading to the kidnapping of the girls”.

He, however, said the second accused person did not know anything about the incidents and that when the first accused was giving his statement to the police and incriminating the second accused, John Oji was not there.

He said with regards to the facebook chats, he argued that there was no expert to authenticate and that it could be some conversations between some other persons.

Samuel Udoetuk Wills and John Oji, both Nigerians, were standing trial in connection with the missing girls which has generated some heated public debate over the past three years.

The kidnapped girls; Ruth Quayson, Priscilla Blessing Bentum, Priscilla Koranchie and Ruth Abekah—were believed to have been kidnapped between August 2018 and January 2019.

Source: GNA

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