Justice Hakeem Oshodi of an Ikeja High Court, Lagos on Tuesday warned counsel to Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike alias “Evans” that no further delays would be tolerated in his ongoing trial.
Justice Oshodi gave the warning following a 30-minute verbal exchange he had with Chinonye Obiagwu, Evans’ new defence counsel who had prayed for an adjournment to study the case file.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Obiagwu is one of the 31 newly-shortlisted Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) for induction on September 24.
Justice Oshodi said, “I cannot come from home during vacation to be told that the matter will not go on for one excuse or the other.
He said: “Counsel should desist from filing applications targeting at stalling trial, parties must get their witnesses ready, so that justice will be served within reasonable time frame.”
NAN reported that Evans had on various occasions hired two defence counsel; Olukoya Ogungbeje and Noel Brown to represent him.
The changes in defence counsel had caused delays in the trial.
Previous court proceedings held on June 26, had been put on hold due to Brown taking over from Ogungbeje who was Evans’ first defence counsel at the onset of his trial.
Evans is standing trial alongside: Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba.
The six accused were arraigned on August 30, 2017 on two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping of the Chief Executive Officer of Maydon Pharmaceutical Limited, Donatus Dunu, from whose family they allegedly collected 223,000 Euro (N100m) as ransom.
Evans and his co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Earlier during proceedings, a witness, Insp. Idowu Haruna of the
Intelligence Response Team that arrested the defendants, had told the court how the accused were arrested.
Haruna’ who was led in evidence by Adebayo Haroun, the State Prosecuting counsel, told the court that the statements of the defendants were not obtained under duress but rather in a conducive environment.
Following Haruna’s revelation of how the statement was obtained, the prosecuting officer urged the court to admit the statements as evidence.
Obiagwu however opposed the admissibility of the statements on the premise that they were obtained under duress prompting Justice Oshodi to order a trial-within-trial.
During the trial-within-trial, Haruna told the court that when Dunu, Evans’ alleged victim escaped from the kidnappers den, he was brought to the Anti-Kidnapping Department, Ikeja and was later taken to the then Lagos State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni.
He said: “Owoseni then ordered a team to move to the defendants hideout at Igando, a suburb of Lagos.
“On getting to the house, the abductors had fled the scene with their little possessions but the police team found some ammunition in the house which the defendants left behind.”
Haruna revealed that during interrogation, Evans had alleged that he enjoyed the services of some officers of the Nigerian Army during their kidnap operations.
He said: “Whenever they were going on their operation, they put on army uniform to camouflage as army officers and disguise in order to deceive their prey.
“Two army officers involved were later arrested and taken before their superiors at Abati Barracks for disciplinary actions.
“They were dismissed and taken back to the police for further disciplinary action.”
The case was adjourned until October 26 for continuation of the trial-within-trial.