The planned arraignment of suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike otherwise known as Evans, over attempted kidnap of the Chairman, The Young Shall Grow Motors, Vincent Amaechi Obianodo, could not hold on Monday as a Lagos High Court, Igbosere adjourned till October 27.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, on Monday fixed the date following two applications by Evans seeking to quash the two charges and eleven counts filed against him by the Lagos State Government.
Evans told the court that the fresh charges including murder, kidnapping and attempted murder brought against him were incompetent.
The defendant’s lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, argued that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain both charges, particularly as it relates to illegal possession of firearms, which is a federal offence.
In the proposed charges, the state will call 12 witnesses – six civilians and six senior police officers – to testify against Evans and Aduba for the alleged attempted kidnap of Obianodo.
The prosecution also listed nine exhibits that it intends to tender, including four rifles, two pistols, bullet proof vests, among others.
When the matter came up, Ogungbeje drew the court’s attention to his applications.
His words: “We have a pending motion on notice of October 19, 2017. The information filed by the prosecution was not served on us till this morning. However, we got wind that our client would be arraigned this morning. We had to move an application for the certified true copy of the information to enable us bring the necessary application.
“That is why we have filed a motion on notice seeking to quash the charge. It seeks to challenge the competence of the charge. “The prosecution in the circumstances has foisted an adjournment on this honourable court. I urge the court to grant us a short adjournment to enable us reply on point of law to this application.”
The application 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.
Ogungbeje argued that all 11 counts in both charges were “bad for duplicity, grossly defective, a gross abuse of court’s process and do not disclose a prima facie case” against Evans.
In particular, he claimed that counts 1, 2 and 3 in the first charge 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 constitute a gross abuse of the 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.
In another instance, he said counts 6 and 7 of the charge were a gross abuse of court process as the same offence concerning firearms had earlier been filed by the prosecution in charge number LD/5962C/2017.
He claimed further that the Attorney-General of Lagos State had erroneously charged Evans with a Federal offence and under a Federal law, rather than a state law.
However, in its counter-affidavit, the Lagos State Government contended that the charge numbers; LD/5962/2017 and ID/5970/2017, referred to by the applicant are separate and distinct from the new charges.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) T. K. Shitta-Bey further argued that the second to fifth defendants in the new charge are not defendants in charge number; ID/5970C/2017.
She stated that apart from the confessional statements of Evans, arms and ammunitions were recovered from him and his alleged cohorts.
The DPP 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.
The prosecution further claimed that the application is vexatious and calculated to delay and frustrate the trial of Evans.
Counsel for other defendants, Mr. Emmanuel Ochai and Mr Ogedi Ogu, however, did not object to the arraignment of the defendants.
Justice Taiwo said: “In view of the defendant’s application to have the motion heard before arraignment, the case is hereby adjourned till October 27 at 10am.”
Last August, Evans pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and kidnapping, before an Ikeja High Court, Lagos but last week Thursday, he changed his plea to not guilty.