..Tells judge, ‘You cannot hear my case’
..As court awards N2m damages against police
From: Lukman Olabiyi
Attempt by the Lagos State Government to arraign suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans on two separate charges, on Monday, suffered a setback, as the defendant rebuffed his arraignment before the State High Court, in Igbosere.
The inability of the court to take his plea and others defendants, made Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, to adjourn the trial till October 27, to hear the applications filed by Evans, challenging the court’s jurisdiction to try him.
One of the charges preferred against Evans and others included an attempted kidnap of the Chairman of The Young Shall Grow Motors, Vincent Amaechi Obianodo.
Evans’ counsel, Olukoya Ogungbeje seeking to quash the two charges and eleven counts filed against him .
According to Ogungbeje, the court had no jurisdiction to hear both charges.
In one charge, Evans and second defendant Victor Nonso Aduba are standing trial on four counts of conspiracy, kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms .
In the second charge, he and three others are facing seven counts of conspiracy, attempted kidnapping, kidnapping, murder and attempted murder.
The second to fourth defendants are Joseph Ikenna Emeka, Chiemeka Arinze and Udeme Frank Upong.
Meanwhile, reprieve on Monday came the way of one Mr. Okwuchukwu Obiechina, the brother-in-law of Evans as the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, entered judgment against the Nigeria Police in the fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the applicant.
In the judgment yesterday, Justice Mohammed Idris, declared Obiechina’s arrest and his wife, Onosube detention unconstitutional, holding that the remand order which the police claimed to have obtained from a magistrates’ court was invalid.
Apart from ordering the police to immediately release applicants unconditionally or charge him to court if they have any case against him, the court also awarded N2m damages in his favour against the police.
Justice Idris also ordered the police to tender a public apology to Obiechina to be published in two national dailies.
Lagos State Commissioner of Police, the Nigeria Police and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad were joined as co-respondents in the suit.
In the suit, the duo claimed they had been in detention since June 2 owing to their relationship with Evans.
The application seeking to quash the two charges before state High CourtIgbosere, was brought pursuant to Section 55 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, 2015 and Sections 36 and 6 (6) (b) of the Constitution.
It was argued that all 11 counts in the two charges were bad for duplicity, grossly defective, a gross abuse of court’s process and does not disclose a prima facie case against the defendant.
Specifically, Ogungbeje claimed that counts 1, 2 and 3 in the first charge filed against his client, do not disclose any prima facie case as there is no evidence of death in the proof of evidence in the information filed by the prosecution.
Besides, he said counts 4 and 5 constitutes a gross abuse of court’s process as similar charges on the same offence of kidnapping had earlier been filed by the prosecution against his client in charge numbers; LD/5962/2017 and ID/5970/2017
That counts 6 and 7 of the charge is a gross abuse of court process on the same offence of firearms had earlier been filed by the prosecution in charge number; LD/5962C/2017.
It was further that Evans has been erroneously charged with a Federal offence and under a Federal law by the Attorney General of Lagos State.
He was consequently arraigned alongside five members of his gang by the Lagos State Government on a 2-count charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping.
However, in its counter-affidavit, the State Government contended that the charge numbers; LD/5962/2017 and ID/5970/2017, referred to by Evans separate and distinct from the new charges.
It was further argued that the 2nd to 4th in the new charge are not defendants in charge number; ID/5970C/2017.
That apart from the confessional statements of Evans, arms and ammunitions were recovered from him and his cohorts.
Government said the charges were valid and competent having satisfied the provisions of the relevant laws and that it has enough evidence to proceed against Evans
It was further claimed that the application is vexatious and calculated to delay and frustrate the trial of Evans.
The court has adjourned hearing of the application till October 27