The Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Abak has sentenced a 59-year-old man, Pius Udo Ben to death for kidnapping a four year-old boy, who has not been found till today.
Pius Udo Ben, a father of seven children from Ikot Use Ekong in Eket Local Government Area, was standing trial alongside one Emmanuel Dickson Assam.
Assam, a 62 year-old carpenter was charged too for aiding Ben to escape, contrary to Section 12 subsection B of Akwa Ibom State Internal Security and Enforcement Law, 2009.
The details of the offense indicate that the four-year-old victim was asleep in his mother’s shop located in Iko Eket, within the Eket Local Government Area.
The convict, accompanied by a motorcyclist, deceived the victim’s 11-year-old sister into leaving the shop to find change for a N100 purchase of iced fish.
She was said to have returned without seeing her brother and the kidnapper who had left behind the iced fish he came pretending to buy.
The incident occurred on 5th June, 2014, with the then village head elect of Iko Eket summoning the entire villagers for a parade and the sister of the missing boy identified the kidnapper in the crowd.
In her one hour judgement, the presiding judge, Justice Eno Isangedighi said she has read the addresses of the defense and the prosecution against the background of the facts adduced in evidence which she described as “straightforward”.
Justice Isangedighi discharged and acquitted the second accused, Emmanuel Dickson Assam for lack of evidence and found the first accused, Pius Udo Ben guilty of kidnapping and sentenced him to death by hanging.
She held that whether the four year-old boy is alive or not, the clue lies with the convict, who from the fact of the case, has decided to keep mum and face the consequences alone.
“He may well not be alive again or he is being raised in a strange environment to be who God did not create him to be. Whatever happens, it is expected that justice must be done.” Justice Isangedighi held.
She also said that she has “listened to the allocutus of the first defendant and considered the passionate plea for mercy by the defense counsel.
“I have also double checked the provisions of the law to see whether it allow any latitude for discretion on the Court during sentencing.
“What I find is very clear and it states that any person who contravenes subsection 1 of Akwa Ibom State Internal Security and Enforcement Law, 2009 commits an offence and shall on conviction, be liable to be sentenced to death.
“Very sadly, the Court has no discretion for power to lessen the sentence. Had there been such discretion, the Court would have taken into consideration, the fact that the first defendant has been in custody for about 10 years. But as it stands, I am powerless to do so.
“The sentence of this Court upon you, Pius Udo Ben is that, you are hereby sentenced to death. You shall be hanged on the neck until you die. May the Lord have mercy on your soul”. Justice Isangedighi held.