The inability of alleged kidnap kingpin Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans, to pay for his legal representation has stalled two trials which are before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court.
Mr Chinoye Obiagwu (SAN), the counsel to Evans and Chiemeka Arinze his co-defendant in one of the kidnap cases, had written to the court to request for an adjournment in both cases.
Portions of the letter dated March 4 and signed by Mr Noel Brown on behalf of Obiagwu was read in court by Mr Abiodun Alagbe, the state prosecutor.
Excerpts of the letter read: “Now that he (Obiagwu) is on hand to lead the defence, he finds that the families of the defendants are yet to provide some necessary yet critical obligations, which to prevent any embarrassment, and for the safety and well being of the defendants, who are still being held in custody, he (Obiagwu) would not want disclosed to the open court.”
After he had read portions of the letter, Alagbe noted that Evans’ defence team were also absent in court during the on Feb. 6.
Reacting to the letter, Justice Taiwo registered her displeasure at the request for an adjournment.
“It is ridiculous that we should wait for the first defendant (Evans) and his counsel to negotiate for a case that is already in court,” she said.
The Judge, however, acceded to the request and granted different adjournment dates for the two suits.
The first criminal suit, Evans is facing trial alongside Victor Aduba, a dismissed member of the Nigerian Army.
The defendants are charged with four counts of kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms.
Evans and the dismissed soldier are accused of kidnapping Mr Sylvanus Ahamonu, holding him hostage for at least nine weeks and collecting a ransom of 420,000 dollars from his family.
When the first suit was announced, Mr Emmanuel Ochai, Aduba’s defence counsel had told the court that he had also been served with a copy of Obiagwu’s letter.
“I will not be objecting to the request for an adjournment, I was also informed that the first defendant has filed their written addresses,” Ochai said.
Adjourning the case, Justice Taiwo said “The first and second defendants have filed submissions on the trial-within-trial, the prosecution has responded but are yet to serve the first defendant.
“The first defendant’s counsel had been absent for two dates in a row.
“This case is adjourned to March 20 for the adoption of final written addresses.”
In the second criminal suit, Evans is facing trial alongside Joseph Emeka, Chiemeka Arinze and Udeme Upong over the attempted kidnap of Chief Vincent Obianodo, the Chairman of the Young Shall Grow Motors.
They face a seven-count charge of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, attempt to kidnap and sale and transfer of firearms.
When the suit was announced, Justice Taiwo adjourned the case until March 29, for further hearing.