Co-defendants of alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike (alias Evans) on Friday prayed an Ikeja high court to acquitted and discharge them of charges of conspiracy and kidnapping brought against them by the Lagos State Government.
Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba made the prayer via their counsel during the adoption of their final written addresses at the conclusion of their trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defendants are accused of being members of a gang led by Evans which orchestrated the Feb. 14, 2017 kidnap of Mr Donatus Dunu, the Managing Director of Maydon Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Following the oral submissions of defence counsel, Justice Hakeem Oshodi adjourned the case until Feb. 25, 2022, for judgment.
The judgment will be the first to be passed in all the five kidnapping cases involving Evans, at the moment, in Lagos high courts.
Ms E.B Obogwu, counsel to Amadi (second defendant), told the court that the testimony of Dunu, the alleged kidnap victim, that he could identify Amadi, based solely on recognition of voice, was insufficient.
“My lord, how can someone who was blindfolded for 88 days, while he was in captivity, come back and identify the person in court.
“In view of this, I urge my lord to discharge and acquit the second defendant,” she prayed.
Mr Chris Obiaka, counsel to Uchechukwu, the only female defendant and wife of Amadi (second defendant), said that Dunu, in his evidence-in-chief, never mentioned her name as one of his captors.
“It was her insistence to know where the police officers who came to pick up her husband in Port Harcourt were taking him to, that landed her here.
“The witness (Dunu) never knew the woman. He was blindfolded for 88 days.
“We submit that, based on this argument, we urge my lord to discharge and acquit the third defendant of the two charges,” he said.
Mr Olanrewaju Ajanaku, counsel to Ifeanyi (the fourth defendant), argued that the prosecution was unable to link the fourth defendant with the alleged crimes.
“The fourth defendant runs a phone and accessories business. He was working at a central area in FESTAC on the day the alleged crimes were committed.
“He related with so many people on that day. He was not at the scene.
“Prosecution has not proved the offence of conspiracy and kidnapping beyond a reasonable doubt. We urge that the charges against him be dismissed,” Ajanaku said.
Mr M.C Ozokwu, counsel to Nwachukwu (fifth defendant), said that the first to third prosecution witnesses never mentioned or identified the fifth defendant as one of those who took part in the alleged offences.
“PW4 (Insp Idowu Haruna), who is the Investigating Police Officer, was the only person that mentioned the fifth defendant. We urge the court to discharge the fifth defendant,” he said.
Mr Emmanuel Ochai, counsel to Aduba (sixth defendant) and a dismissed member of the Nigerian Army, in his submission, said that his client had an alibi that was never investigated by the authorities.
“The prosecution never investigated the alibi. The sixth defendant served in the Nigerian Army, and he said that he was on duty at Abati Barracks on that day.
“This alibi was the easiest to investigate but it was not investigated. His alleged confessional statement did not tally with the crime he is accused of.
“We are urging this honourable court to discharge and acquit the defendant,” he said.
NAN reports that the defendants were arraigned before Oshodi on Aug. 31, 2017, on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
According to the prosecution, Dunu was kidnapped on Ilupeju Road, Lagos State, and the defendants collected 223,000 Euros as ransom from his family.
The prosecution closed its case against the defendants on Jan. 10, 2020, after presenting four witnesses, including Dunu.
The defence closed its case on Aug. 3, 2021, after the six defendants testified.
During their respective testimonies, all the defendants said that they were innocent.