By Abdulwahab Abdulah, Onozure Dania & Bartholomew Madukwe
LAGOS—NOTORIOUS kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike aka Evans, yesterday, pleaded guilty to the two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping preferred against him by Lagos State.
“My Lord, I am guilty,” Evans told the court when the charge was read to him by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, who led the Lagos State prosecution team.
Evans was arraigned alongside five others – Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Okwuchukwu Nwachuckwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi and Victor Chukwunonso Aduba. before an Ikeja High Court amid tight security over alleged conspiracy and kidnapping.
Evans, Uche Amadi and Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, pleaded guilty, while the third defendant, Ogechi Uchechukwu, a female, Chilaka Ifeanyi and Victor Chukwunonso Aduba pleaded not guilty.
Kazeem, in the charge, stated that the defendants committed the alleged offence between February 14 and April 12, 2017.
He said that the incident took place at about 7:45pm, along Obokun Street, Ilupeju, Lagos.
The AG, also stated that on April 12, Evans alongside the other five defendants armed with guns and other weapons captured, detained and collected a ransom of 223,000 Euros from one Duru Donatus for his release.
According to the prosecutor, the offences committed are punishable under sections 411 and 271 (3) of the Criminal Law Cap C17 Laws of Lagos State 2015.
Remand in prison
After the arraignment the AG, asked Justice Hakeem Oshodi to remand the defendants in prison custody.
He said: “We would be asking for remand in custody and also for an adjournment to take trial for those that pleaded not guilty, so that we can come back for facts and sentence of the ones that pleaded guilty.”
Before the adjournment Justice Oshodi asked the AG, the prison he wanted and the AG said, ‘’Kirikiri Maximum Prison.’’
However, Justice Oshodi remanded the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth defendants in Kirikiri Maximum Prison, while the third defendant was remanded in the female wing of Kirikiri Prisons.
He adjourned the case to October 19, for trial.
The super cop, ACP Abba Kyari is among 10 other witnesses lined up by the Lagos State government to prove the case of conspiracy and kidnapping pressed against Evans and five others.
Evans forced to plead guilty – Lawyer
The counsel to the first, second, third and fifth defendants, Olukoya Ogunbeje, said they would not opposed to the adjournment.
His words: ‘’The defence team has just had the opportunity of meeting our clients this morning in court. We were just served the document in the open court, this morning. Thirdly, all the defendants have since been in the custody of the Police and we have not had the opportunity of conferring with them regarding the offences, which are capital in nature. We would like to ask for an adjournment to confer with our clients.
“Before the next adjourned date we would have conferred with our clients as this is a capital offence.’’
However, Olukoya Ogungbeje, said the Evans was forced to plead guilty to the offences, claiming that he was never allowed to have consultations with him until yesterday when he was brought to court.
In a press statement, Ogungbeje, said: “After the purported guilty plea of our client and the court rose. We stressed to have brief discussion time with our client and ‘he told us clearly that the police told him to plead guilty or the police will kill him.
“This is definitely unconstitutional and we intend to challenge this unconstitutional procedure to hoodwink, unduly influence, brainwash and coerce an accused into entering a guilty plea against his wish and freewill.
“He pointedly told us that being informed now, he will change his ‘police motivated guilty plea’ to ‘not guilty’ at the next adjourned date.
“It is settled law that plea of guilty must be made voluntary and direct devoid of any influence, coercion and manipulation.
“In the meantime, after our brief conferring with our client in open court, he made it known to us that he will change his police motivated guilty plea to not guilty at the next adjourned date. We have a responsibility to assist the cause of justice in accordance with the law.”
The police on June 10, 2017, arrested the kidnap kingpin in Lagos after five years of trailing him.