A Lagos High Court, sitting in Tafawa Balewa Square, on Wednesday fixed July 13 for the convicted kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, a.k.a. Evans, to open his defence.
A kidnap victim, Chief Donatus Duru, had in 2018 filed the suit demanding for return of 223,000 Pounds he paid as ransom while in the custody of the kidnap kingpin.
The claimant is also demanding for N50 million in general damages.
When the case was called on Wednesday, Mr Maxwell Chukwuemeka, announced his appearance for the defendant (Evans).
Chukwuemeka, told the court that he had filed two applications – a motion for change of counsel and a motion for amendment of the defendant’s statement of defence.
Chukwuemeka, was seeking to represent the defendant.
The claimant’s counsel, Mr D. O. Obiora, said that the defendant has been changing counsel but did not oppose the applications.
Obiora, however, said that the court delivered a ruling on May 23, granting leave for the defendant to file its statement of defence.
He said that the defendant has not filed the defence but is seeking for leave to amend its defence.
Justice Kayode Ogunjobi, however, granted the two applications.
The judge complained that “this matter has suffered several adjournments. The delay is hurting everybody and putting the state at expenses.
“We have been here since 2018 till 2022, at the instance of the defendant. I awarded a cost of N2.5 million because the delay was unwarranted.
“If there is further delay, I will award another cost because I don’t see why you have an application to amend your statement of defence and you didn’t come with the amended statement to file it”.
He, however, adjourned the case until July 13 for defence to open its case.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the claimant had instituted the suit on the May 16, 2018 and served the defendant through the Comptroller General of Prison Kirikiri maximum prison Lagos.
The defendant was initially represented by a lawyer in March 2019 and was accorded every opportunity to defend the suit but failed to do so.
However, when the claimant closed his case on March 3, 2022, the defendant came back seeking leave of court to defend himself.
According to Evans he has been in prison custody since August 2017 and was not aware of the pendency of the action.
He stated that he became aware of the suit in 2019 when he was already out of time to file his defence.
He said immediately he became aware of the suit, he contracted a lawyer to defend him.
The defendant added that sometime in March, he was informed that his former lawyer had ceased to represent him and had not filed a statement of defence. (NAN)