Court sentences Two Nigerians to death for kidnapping and killing of Takoradi girls

Sekondi High Court, presided over by Justice Richard Adjei-Frimpong has sentenced Two Nigerians, Samuel Udoetuk-Wills and John Oji to death by hanging for kidnapping and killing four girls in Takoradi in 2018.

The sentence was given after a seven-member jury found them guilty on eight counts of murder.

Justice Richard Adjei-Frimpong, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, sitting as a High Court judge, told the two convicts of their right to file an appeal within 30 days if they think otherwise.

The two convicted men have increased the number of prisoners on the death toll in Ghana to 162.

The four victims who went missing between July and December 2018 in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis were Ruth Abekah, 18, Priscilla Blessing Bentum, 21, Ruth Love Quayson, 18, and Priscilla Mantebea Koranchie, 15.

During the earlier stages, the kidnappers contacted the relatives of the victims and demanded ransom for their release.

On December 22, 2018, investigations led to the arrest of Wills, only for him to escape from police custody on December 30. He was recaptured on January 3, 2019.

Wills confessed to being part of the kidnapping syndicate that took the girls, but he took the police on a wild goose chase which even led the police visiting Nigeria, but all the efforts did not help in finding the girls.

During investigation, Wills mentioned John Oji as his accomplice and on June 4, 2019, Oji was also arrested at Aflao on the Ghana-Togo border.

Police further investigations between August 2 and 6, 2019, led to the discovery of skeletal remains in a septic tank in the residence of Wills at Kansawrodo, a suburb of Sekondi, and in a well around the unfinished building, where he was recaptured.

The DNA tests conducted on the skeletal remains matched the DNA samples obtained from the parents of the victims and proved that the skeletal remains were those of the four girls and that they were all dead.

Earlier, the prosecution, led by Chief State Attorney, Ms Patience Klinogo, in her final submission, prayed the jury to consider all the evidence levelled against the accused persons.

The Chief State Attorney told the court that the prosecution had successfully proved all the offences against both accused persons beyond all reasonable doubt and the only possible verdict in this case was guilty on all the four counts of conspiracy and all four counts of murder against the accused persons.

Ms Klinogo said in the light of the evidence adduced, “we submit that the two accused persons agreed to act together in this case with one common purpose of committing the offence of murder through the means of kidnapping the four girls and killing them”.

“I, therefore, urge you to return a verdict of guilty against both accused persons on each of the eight counts after my Lord has summed up the case.”

After the conviction, the Campaign Coordinator of Amnesty International Ghana, Samuel Abotsey has questioned the country’s continuous reliance on the death penalty when it has actually never been executed since 1992.

Mr. Abotsey added that it will be better to rely on life sentences or fixed-term sentences in case of fresh evidence affecting cases.

Story by: Alexander Afriyie

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