Defendant Olisa Anthony, 44, a Nigerian national who was arrested by police when he held hostage one of his kinsmen, Ifechukwe Ibe and allegedly demanded US$1,800 as ransom from the victim’s family in Nigeria, was for the first time on Friday, July 20, brought before the Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice for preliminary hearing on the commission of his multiple crimes that include kidnapping.
Ezenwa was arrested on July 13 this year at his Doe Community residence on the outskirts of Monrovia where he had held hostage the victim for four days. The victim, Ibo, was rescued and found to have been inflicted with severe bruises on his body.
At Friday’s hearing, Magistrate Kennedy Peabody ordered the court’s bailiff to take defendant Ezenwa to the Monrovia Central Prison without any delay.
Peabody’s reason was that Ezenwa could not hire a lawyer to secure his bond that would have prevented him from being sent to jail, because the crimes of recklessly endangering another person’s life, kidnapping, simple assault and menacing (frightening, alarming) for which police charged Ezenwa, qualifies him for bail.
Court documents alleged that on July 9 Ezenwa and his collaborators, who are still at large, gave Ibe US$1,800 to bring narcotic drugs into the country.
Unfortunately, the record claimed that after Ibe successfully shipped the drugs into the country, he delivered the consignment to Ezenwa. But later Ezenwa discovered that the drugs that Ibe brought him was believed to be fake.
Ibe’s action caused serious frustration and embarrassment to Ezenwa’s narcotic business, and Ezenwa and his collaborators decided to take the law into their own hands by holding Ibe hostage for four days, during which they inflicted multiple bodily injuries on the victim.
While being held hostage, the document alleged, Ezenwa photographed and videotaped Ibe and later sent those evidence to the victim’s family in Nigeria, demanding a ransom of US$1,800 or he would kill Ibe.
The money was not paid when police received a tip-off about the ensuing hostage, which led to Ibe’s rescue and Ezenwa’s subsequent arrest.
Police claimed that Ezenwa admitted to keeping Ibe hostage and demanding a ransom of US$1,800, but the defendant said it was some of his kinsmen who set him up.
Kidnappings for ransom is gradually becoming a common business in the country, and security authorities need to increase surveillance activities in order to ensure that the practice does not take root in Liberia as is the case with other African countries, especially Nigeria.