Lagos Division of the Lagos State High Court has fixed June 26 to rule on an application brought by alleged billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (popularly known as Evans), to quash the criminal charges brought against him.
The judge, A. Akintoye fixed the date after overruling an earlier application by Evans that the charges constituted an abuse of court processes. According to Olukoya Ogungbeje, counsel to Evans, similar charges had been instituted against his client in other courts by the Lagos State Government. He said the charges were grossly defective, repetitive and an abuse of court processes.
Relying on Section 153 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law ( ACJL ) of Lagos State, Mr Ogungbeje added that nothing stopped the prosecution from bringing the charges under one judge pointing out that counts three, four and five of the charges were repetitions of the same offence.
“Apart from the counts being of the same offence, the same section of the law is being provided in these counts. I submit that the prosecution misfired by bringing different charges and instituting the same case in different courts. I urge your lordship to quash the charge because it is defective and an abuse of court process” he said.
In response, the prosecuting counsel, Titilayo Shitta-Bey, said the general rule is that every offence must be in a separate count. “It will be against the provisions of the law to lump the two offences in one count,” she added. She said the first defendant, Evans, was charged with attempt to murder one James Uduji in count three, while in count four, he was charged with attempt to murder Donald Nwoye.
She also said that other charges filed against the first defendant in other courts involved other defendants and different charges. She, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the application. Counsel to the second defendant urged the court to dismiss the charges against Linus Okpara, his client, stating that no prima facie had been established against him. Jude Igbanoi, counsel to the third defendant, said, “I will align myself with the arguments made by the first defendant. I urge this honourable court to quash the charge, there is nothing in the proof of evidence linking the third defendant to the charge.”
In response, however, Ms Shitta-Bey said the proof of evidence disclosed a prima facie case against Mr Okpara. She said the proof of evidence disclosed where the third defendant admitted collecting N2 million for the first defendant in relation to one of the victims, Uche Okoroafor. She, therefore, urging the court to dismiss the argument of the third defendant.
The case was adjourned to June 26 for a ruling by the judge. Evans is charged alongside Joseph Emeka, Ugochukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba in a fresh two count charge bordering on conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping and attempted murder In the second charge, Evans is being tried alongside Joseph Emeka, Linus Okpara and Victor Aduba in a three-count charge before the same judge Evans is also facing trial before Hakeem Oshodi and Oluwatoyin Taiwo, judges at the Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court.