The trial of alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, has resumed.
Evans’ trial continued on Friday at the Lagos High Court in the Ikeja area, after suffering several adjournments owing to a lack of legal representation.
The trial judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi, ordered the defendant’s new counsel to write and sign an undertaking to finish the criminal case.
He gave the order to Mr Oyekunle Falabi after dismissing a “no-case submission” filed by Evans’ four co-defendants.
At the last sitting of the court, the judge said Evans had developed a habit of engaging the services of lawyers who “disappeared halfway through trial” and this has caused delays in the case.
He had then directed the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) to take over his defence at the next adjourned date if he was not represented by any counsel.
Since the trial began on August 30, 2017, Evans was represented at different times by Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, Mr Noel Brown, and Mr Olanrewaju Ajanaku, all of whom withdrew from the case.
He had also told the court that he had no money to pay for his legal fees.
Stay Till The End
At the resumed proceedings on Friday, the new lawyer, Mr Falabi told the court that the chambers of Victor Okpara and Co. were just briefed about the case the previous day.
After hearing this, Justice Oshodi ordered the lawyer to write an undertaking and immediately dictated in open court, the words to an undertaking to the effect that Falabi and his law chambers would not abandon the case during the trial.
The words of the undertaking are “I, Oyekunle Falabi, representing the law firm of Victor Okpara undertake on behalf of the first defendant (Evans) in suit no ID/590761 to represent him in defence of this matter at all times when the matter comes up in Justice Oshodi’s court.
“In the event of any breach of this undertaking, the court is at liberty to report us to our national body, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).”
After Falabi wrote and signed the undertaking, Justice Oshodi ordered that the document be witnessed and signed by the Lagos State Solicitor-General, Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey, who was representing the prosecution.
After this was done, lawyers to Evans’ co-defendants requested an adjournment in order to prepare for their defence since their no-case submission had been dismissed.
Justice Oshodi held that the prosecution had presented evidence to the court that linked the four co-defendants to the alleged crime.
He later adjourned the case until October 16.
A Call To Open Defence
Evans is standing trial alongside Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba, over the alleged kidnap of the Chief Executive Officer of Maydon Pharmaceutical Limited, Mr Donatius Dunu.
In presenting its case against the defendants, the fourth prosecution witness, Inspector Idowu Haruna, had told the court that during interrogation, Evans had identified his other gang members which included the third, fourth, fifth and sixth defendants.
But at the close of the prosecution’s case, the co-defendants had filed different ‘no case submission’ applications, insisting that the prosecution had not been able to link them to the offence.
They, therefore, asked the court to strike out the suit and set them free.
In his ruling on Friday, Justice Oshodi held that the fourth witness, in particular, Haruna, had also mentioned that the second defendant was the husband of the third defendant.
He stated, “The third defendant upon his arrest had linked the first defendant (Evans) to the alleged crime and said the first defendant is their leader.
“The victim (Dunu), in his court evidence, said that though he was blindfolded, his food was being made in captivity by a woman whose voice was that of the third defendant, the wife of the second defendant.”
“There is a prima face case as the first defendant also implicated the co-defendants in Exhibit 10. The duty of the court is to look at the totality of the evidence so far before it. The prosecution has laid out a prima facie case.
“The court finds and holds that no evidence has been discredited on the face of the document. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth defendants, are now called to open their defence,” he said