Lance Corporal Victor Chukwunonso
By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Victor Aduba, an army officer, who is one of the suspected henchmen of billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, aka Evans was yesterday refused bail by an Ikeja High Court.
Aduba, is the sixth defendant and the army officer who aided Evans activities, in the ongoing kidnap trial of Evans and five others before Justice Hakeem Oshodi.
In a ruling by the court, Aduba’ s request for bail was rejected on the ground that the applicant does not live in Lagos and that he does not have sufficient reasons to warrant bail.
Justice Oshodi said the court considered the gravity of the offence allegedly committed, the offender’s possibility of interfering with course of trial and his antecedents before arriving at his decision.
He held that the sixth defendant would constitute a high risk, especially having admitted in his statement of being involved in illegal operations where he collects N20,000.
The offence which the sixth defendant (Aduba) is standing trial for is a very severe one. It would be wise to hold him in custody for his own safety and protection.
The judge held that Aduba did not place sufficient material before the court to make the court exercise its discretion in his favour.
“The bail application is hereby refused and is dismissed,” Justice Oshodi held.
Aduba, Evans and four others were arraigned before the judge on August 30, 2017 on two charges bordering on conspiracy and kidnapping.
The other defendants are Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Okuchukwu Nwachukwu and Chilaka Ifeanyi.
Proceedings in the case was however could not proceed further yesterday as Evans’ lawyer, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, was absent.
While adjourning the matter till March 16, 2018, following prayer for same by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs. Titilayo Shita-Bey, the judge said he hoped that the letter written by Ogungbeje to seek an adjournment was not a ploy to frustrate the case.
Earlier, the judge, in a short ruling, foreclosed the opportunity of the fourth defendant, Nwachukwu, to cross-examine the first prosecution witness, Mr. Anselem Dunu.
The witness is the elder brother of the Chief Executive Officer of Maydon Pharmaceutical Limited, Donatus Dunu, who was allegedly kidnapped by the gang sometime in February this 2017.
The judge’s decision to foreclose Nwachukwu’s chance of cross-examining Dunu was because he was not willingness to cross-examine the witness by himself as he was not represented by any lawyer.
Prosecuting lead counsel, Shitta-Bey, had urged the court not to allow Nwachukwu’s failure to get a lawyer to stop yesterday’s proceedings.
She said, “The matter was adjourned for continuation of trial, particularly cross-examination of PW1 by the fourth defendant.
“That the fourth defendant is not represented by counsel should not prevent the cross-examination of the witness from going on.
“He has been given ample opportunity by this court to get counsel of his choice.
“Under Section 36(6)(d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), he’s entitled to examine the witness either by his counsel or himself.”
She added that on account of the fourth defendant’s delay to get a lawyer, the case had already suffered many adjournments.
Counsel for the third and fifth defendants, A.A. Uzochukwu and Joseph Otogbolu, respectively aligned themselves with Shitta-Bey.
Counsel for the sixth defendant, Emmanuel Ochei, however urged the court to give Nwachukwu further grace to get a lawyer.
The judge, accepted the submission of Shitta-Bey and others, and directed the court registrar to ask Nwachukwu if he was ready to cross-examine the witness or foreclose his opportunity.
Responding, Nwachukwu said, “I’m not ready, My Lord.”
He added that his family had arranged a lawyer for him, but he was surprised that the lawyer was not in court.
Responding, the judge held, “The court does not buy your excuse. It’s been the same excuse that you have been giving to the court.”
Justice Oshodi directed the registrar to ask Nwachukwu once again if he was ready to cross-examine the witness by himself, to which he again replied, “I cannot cross-examine the witness.”
Consequently, the judge held, “Since the fourth defendant has refused to take up the opportunity to cross-examine the witness, he has forfeited the opportunity.”
As Shitta-Bey said she had no need to re-examine the witness, Justice Oshodi, consequently, discharged the witness.