A Lagos High Court yesterday held that billionaire kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike popularly known as Evans, who was charged for murder and kidnap has case to answer and should proceed to defend himself.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo gave the order while delivering her ruling in an application filed by Evans and other accused persons to quash the two separate charges against them. They were accused of kidnapping, possession of unlawful firearms, murder and attempted murder.
At the last adjourned date Evans had asked the court to quash the seven counts charge against him as there was no prima facie case against him, adding that the court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain the case and also that the prosecution had no power of attorney from the Attorney-General of the Federation to prosecute the case.
In her ruling Justice Taiwo held that there was sufficient material to try the defendants and that the court has the power and jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
She said “It is my humble view that there is sufficient proof to proceed to trial. I reiterate that the onus is on the prosecution to proceed to trial. It is my view that the proof of evidence discloses something worth pushing”.
On the issue of authorisation the judge also stated that the fiat was in order stating that the letter of authorisation from the Attorney-General of the Federation, dated January 2017, was sufficient.
She accordingly dismissed the application.
She said “I find that the application is misconstrued and lacks merit I hereby dismiss same.”
Evans had on October 23, rebuffed attempt by the state government to arraign him and others, on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charges.
The inability of the court to take Evans’ plea and other defendants, compelled Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo to adjourn the trial till yesterday to rule on the applications filed by Evans, through his counsel Olukoya Ogungbeje challenging the court’s jurisdiction to try him.
However the plea of the defendants were taken.
The Lagos State prosecution led by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, said that Evans and Vincent Aduba had on June 23, 2014, at about 5:30pm, at karat Street, in Amuwo Odofin, did conspire to kidnap
According to the prosecution, the defendants unlawfully captured and detained one Sylvanus Hafia, and demanded a ransom of $2million dollars, for his release.
Kazeem also alleged that Evans was unlawfully in possession of firearms, on June 10, 2017, at about 5:30 pm, at Igando Lagos, four AK 47 Rifles with serial number 1960, 0907, 49014772, 20074 and two Zastava Pistols.
The AG, further stated that on June 10, 2017, at about 5:30 pm, the defendants were found in possession of 70 rounds of amunitions.
According to the prosecutor the offences committed were contrary to and punishable under sections 405 and 269 (3) of the criminal laws of Lagos State, 2011 as well as Robbery and firearms special provisions contrary to section 9 (1) Act of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Evans and Aduba pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In the second charge, Evans and three others are facing seven counts charge of conspiracy, attempted kidnapping, kidnapping, murder and attempted murder.
The second to fourth defendants are Joseph Ikenna Emeka, Chiemeka Arinze and Udeme Frank Upong.
The prosecution amended the second charge without attaching proof of evidence to it which made the defendants’ counsel to raise an objection.
The defendants’ counsel contended that the new charge was not properly filed before the court, and argued that failure of the prosecution to attach the proof of evidence to the new charge was a breach of fundamental rights of the defendants to fair hearing.
Evans and other defendants therefore urged the court to strike out the charge
The Attorney-General, Kazeem however, opposed the application on the ground that filing of charge was in line with laid down rules.
Justice Taiwo in her ruling on the fresh application of the defendants agreed with Evans and three others’ counsel, as she held that failure of the prosecution to attach proof of evidence to the new charge was a blunder that couldn’t be over looked by the court,
The court held that for the new charge to be deemed proper before the court, the prosecution must follow the due process.
“I find that the amended charge is irregularly filed . However this does not warrant that the charge should be struck out, all the prosecution needs to do is to file proof of evidence and serve same on the defence, before the next day of appearance”, the Judge held. Consequently Justice Taiwo adjourned till December 15, for commencement of trial.