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Africa / Crime Watch

Story so far: Takoradi murdered girls’ case

Story so far: Takoradi murdered girls’ case

Citi News looks at how far this case has progressed as the Sekondi High Court, presided over by a Court of Appeal’s Judge, Justice Richard Adjei-Frimpong, and supported by a seven-member jury, prepares to rule today on the long-running murdered Takoradi kidnapped girls saga.

In the case of the four Takoradi kidnapped girls, Samuel Udeotuk Wills and John Orji, both Nigerians, are charged with conspiracy and murder.

The case, however, did not begin with the two.

On the 16th of January 2019, a Takoradi District Court charged Samuel Udeotuk Wills with evading lawful custody, resisting arrest, and destroying public property following his rearrest on the 4th of January 2019 following his cell break on the 30th of December 2018.

Sam Wills was remanded after pleading not guilty to all three charges.

On the 11th of February 2019, Wills appeared before the Takoradi Market Circle District Court presided over by His Worship Michael Ampadu, where his charge sheet was read to him. He later told the court that a CID officer, along with one Kwesi and John, helped him escape from the cell.

On March 4, 2019, Sam Wills was attacked by the aggrieved families and friends of the kidnapped girls following proceedings at the Takoradi Market Circle Magistrate Court because the families were disappointed that the court did not insist on Wills naming the CID officer who assisted his escape as well as the whereabouts of the kidnapped girls. This resulted in some chaotic scenes on the court grounds.

Nana Abeka, a volunteer lawyer for the kidnapped girls’ families, asked the court to allow legal representation for the families in the escaping case and a joint trial to begin, which would include the kidnapping case.

His adoration Judge Michael Ampadu, on the other hand, stated that the court was unable to hold a joint trial of the escape and kidnapping cases because investigations into the facts of the kidnapping case were still ongoing.

After several adjournments and the failure of accused cell breaker Sam Udeotuk Wills to appear in court with his witnesses, Presiding Judge Michael Ampadu sentenced Wills to 18 months in prison on two of the three charges of unlawful escape from lawful custody and destroying public property but cleared him on resisting arrest.

In his decision, Judge Ampadu stated that the law of escape states that anyone who allows himself to be helped to escape from lawful custody is also guilty of the crime. He went on to say that Wills’ accusation of receiving assistance from a police officer was an afterthought, and he ruled on the case.

On the 12th of June 2019, the second suspect, John Orji, was brought before a Sekondi High Court, while Sam was in prison custody, serving his 18-month sentence for escaping from lawful custody.

And on June 26th, 2019, the two of them appeared before the High Court together. They were later charged with kidnapping and conspiracy.

On July 31, 2019, their plea on conspiracy and kidnapping charges was accepted, and the facts were presented.

According to the court’s fact sheet, the accused’s Facebook chats revealed coded language about kidnapping and blood sacrifice.

Following the discovery of the skeletal remains on August 2, 2019, and subsequent investigations, which included the results of DNA samples taken from the families, the accused were charged with conspiracy and murder.

Following frustrations with adjournment and general delays in the case, the father of one of the four kidnapped girls, Francis Bentum, and another parent attacked the accused at the court on January 22, 2020, and the attack continued into the court corridors.

As a result, the prosecution filed a Nolle Prosequi on February 5, 2020, and the accused were discharged by the high court.

The accused were brought before the Takoradi district court and committed to stand trial at the High Court on June 18, 2020.

They were brought before the high court on July 14, 2020, following their committal.

On July 29, 2020, the accused entered their pleas, a seven-member jury was appointed, and the facts were presented.

The trial began on August 6, 2020, following a case management conference.

The Sekondi High Court requested to see the remains that were still in the hands of the police on November 3rd, 2020. As a result, they were brought to court in four caskets.

In total, 27 witnesses appeared in court to give statements and were cross-examined.
Sam Udeotuk Wills and John Orji both denied kidnapping or murdering any of the girls during their statements and cross-examination.

Wills, on the other hand, acknowledged knowing and being friends with two of the four girls, Priscilla Blessing Bentum and Priscilla Mantebia Kurankyi.

Wills also denied discussing kidnapping and blood money on Facebook with some of his friends, which investigators presented to the court as evidence.

He told the court that his Facebook name is King Samuel, not Samuel Udeotuk Wills.

Also read:  Udeotuk admits to knowing two of the murdered Takoradi girls

John Orji, for his part, denied four of the charge sheets read to him and was given a thump print as well as his signature.

He also denied telling investigators that when he visited Sam in Takoradi, he told him he had killed someone.

Orji claimed that not all of this information came from him, and that some was obtained under duress.

First accused Samuel Udeotuk Wills refused to leave his Sekondi Central Prisons to appear before the Sekondi High Court on February 1, 2021, until he was forcibly brought in wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, a boxer shot, and barefooted with bruises.

The Sekondi High Court set Friday, March 5, 2021, as the date for the verdict in the murder trial of Sam Udeotuk Wills and John Orji after their lawyers closed their defence and subsequent cross-examinations on February 3rd.

Patience Klinogo, the State Attorney, filed her written address on February 17, 2021, but the defence counsels failed to file their written address on February 24, 2021.

Both the defence and prosecution were supposed to give their oral arguments to the seven-member Jury on March 3rd, the day before the judgement, but they did not appear before the Court on that day.

The Presiding Judge was forced to postpone the addresses until March 4th.

On March 4, the defence counsels for the two accused, George Essilfu-Ansah and Mark Bosia, representing Sam Udoetuk Wills and John Oji, respectively, did not appear, but the counsel for the second accused, Samuel Agbota, also a lawyer, did.

Patience Klinogo, the State Attorney, however, delivered an oral address to the Jury in which she questioned John Orji’s inability to state his “Alabi,” and thus his whereabouts at the time the crime was committed.

She did, however, claim that both Sam Wills and Orji contradicted themselves during cross-examination of the statements they gave to police and signed and that they are thus liable to the eight counts of conspiracy to murder and murder.

In his address, the lawyer representing the second accused, Samuel Agbota, stated that the prosecution had failed to connect his client to the various scenes of the crime and also revealed to the Jury that Orji’s “Alabi” is not in contest because he was incarcerated at the time the crime was committed and thus not liable to the crimes.

Despite the failure of the first accused’s counsel, Samuel Udeotuk Wills, to address the Jury, the Presiding Judge set the final ruling for March 5th, 2021.



Source: CitiNews

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