An Akwa Ibom State High Court in Uyo has sentenced Sunday George Andrew, also known as Sunday Akpan Adede, to death by hanging for the kidnapping of two brothers, Chief Israel Efefiong Utit and Pastor Bassey Utit.

Andrew, a native doctor from Ikono Local Government Area, was convicted of conspiring with others, now at large, to kidnap the victims on November 29, 2015, at Nkemba Street, Uyo. The victims were held in his shrine at Ikot Enua, Ikono, with a ransom of N50 million demanded for their release.

Andrew faced trial alongside Ibe Francis Emeka, the first defendant, on a six-count charge of conspiracy, kidnapping, and armed robbery. While Andrew was found guilty, the court discharged and acquitted Emeka, citing insufficient evidence to prove the charges against him.

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Emeka, from Abia State, testified that he was invited to Uyo by his friend “Papa” and was unwittingly involved in the crime. He described how the gang, led by Ukeme Amos, alias “Bishop,” and Jude Ihemekwa, alias “Method,” abducted the two brothers after intercepting their car at Nkemba Street. Emeka claimed he was forced into the front seat while the victims and “Bishop” were in the back, and “Papa” drove away in the victims’ car.

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In a one-hour judgment, Justice Gabriel Ette described Emeka as “an innocent man and a victim” who was inadvertently caught up with the wrong people. Justice Ette noted that Emeka was held captive with the victims and played a key role in their escape, which contradicted the prosecution’s claims that he was part of the kidnapping scheme.

Justice Ette highlighted that Emeka did not flee after the escape but stayed with the victims until the DSS arrived, further supporting his innocence. The court also referenced a threatening text from “Papa” to Emeka for aiding the victims’ escape, which Emeka showed to the DSS.

The judge concluded by advising Emeka to be cautious about his associates, declaring him not guilty of all charges and ordering his immediate release after ten years in custody.

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Andrew, however, was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging for his role in the kidnapping.