Prince Kazeem Oseni, the son of the kidnapped traditional ruler of Iba town in Lagos, Oba Goriola Oseni, told a Lagos State High Court in Igbosere on Friday that a ransom of N15.1m was paid to the kidnappers to secure the monarch’s freedom.
Kazeem said this at the trial of the four men – Duba Furejo, Ododomo Isaiah, Reuben Anthony and Yerin Fresh – who are being prosecuted by the state over the monarch’s abduction.
The accused were arraigned before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo on October 24, 2016 on eight counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and kidnapping.
Kazeem, who testified as the second prosecution witness on Friday, told the court that the ransom of N15.1m paid to the kidnappers was delivered in two tranches of N12m and N3.1m.
While being led in evidence by the Lagos State Attorney General, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, the witness explained that it took much negotiation before the kidnappers, who had insisted on taking N500m, agreed to free the monarch for N15.1m.
He said the money was delivered to the kidnappers at a canal near Igbehinadun in Iba town, after being instructed by the kidnappers to do so, in a telephone conversation.
The monarch himself, Oseni, testified as the first prosecution witness, during the proceedings from which members of the public were barred at the request of Kazeem.
The AG had, in an oral application, urged the court to order public members out of the courtroom for the safety of the witnesses on the grounds that the defendants were likely part of a criminal syndicate.
Though the defence counsel, Chief Selowei Baidi, Mr. J. O. Egwuaroje and Mr. Anthony Onwueze, opposed the request, Justice Taiwo, however, granted it.
The judge, in a short ruling, held that Kazeem’s application was not prejudicial and assured the defence of fair hearing.
She ordered all journalists in court to identify themselves by their identity cards in order to be allowed to cover the proceedings.
In his testimony, the 73-year-old monarch narrated his ordeal in the hands of the kidnappers to the court. The septuagenarian said the abductors came to his house at about 8pm on July 16, while he was watching television, with only his boxers on.
He described the kidnappers, whose number he put at nine, as “shirtless, heavily-armed men, wearing only black trousers.”
He said immediately they entered his living room, one of the kidnappers said, “This is the king,” and that he (monarch) asked, “What can I do for you?”
The monarch said the kidnappers descended on him, in a move to take him away.
He said, “They grabbed me. I only had boxer shorts on because I was preparing to take a bath.
“My Oloris (queens) came in and asked them where they were taking me to, but they fled when the gunmen fired bullets into the room.”
He said the gunmen dragged him out of the palace and began shooting sporadically as they left the main gate, killing his security guard and a motorcyclist in the process.
“They also shot at one of my Oloris. They started pushing me and shouting, ‘trek, trek’, till I fell and injured my arm. My toe nail was also forcibly removed, so they carried me up,” the monarch added.
The men, he continued, took him to a speedboat, which was used to take him to a riverine camp with about 50 militants. He said he was driven in another boat to a bigger camp with six houses that had more militants.
He pointed at the first, second and third defendants in the dock as being part of the kidnappers.
He identified the fourth defendant as one of those that used to visit the camp where he was kept for three weeks. The monarch told the court that the kidnappers started by demanding N500m ransom from his family.
He testified that after much negotiation, the family paid a sum of N12m and then another N3.1m to the kidnappers before he was eventually released.
Upon being released, he said the second defendant abandoned him in a boat in the middle of a stream and told him to find his way home.
The monarch said, “At my age, the second defendant abandoned me in a boat in the middle of a stream and asked me to paddle away.
“I managed to paddle the boat till I got to a place where I met some women. They told me I was at Iba Expressway. They bought me a T-shirt which I wore on my boxers and that’s what I wore to the palace.”
Justice Taiwo adjourned till November 18, for continuation of trial.
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