Suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, a.k.a Evans and five others were yesterday docked before an Ikeja High Court in Lagos.
Evans was arraigned alongside Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwy, Chilaka Ifeanyi and Victor Aduba on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
Evans, Amadi and Nwachukwu pleaded guilty to the charges while Uchechukwu, the only female defendant, Ifeanyi and Aduba pleaded innocence of the offences.
According to the prosecution led by Adeniji Kazeem, the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Evans and his accomplices committed the offence of conspiracy at 7.45 pm. on February 14 at Obokun Street, Ilupeju, Lagos.
The prosecution said the defendants between Feb. 14 and April 12 on Obokun Street, Ilupeju, while armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, captured and detained Mr Duru Donatius.
According to Kazeem, the defendants collected a ransom of 223,000 euros for the release of Donatius.
After the charges were read to them, Kazeem, requested for the remand of the defendants.
“Following this arraignment, we will like to apply for the defendants to be remanded in custody and obtain trial dates for the ones that have pleaded not guilty.
“While for those that have pleaded guilty, we will like to lay out our statement of facts following which Your Lordship will adjourn for sentencing,” Kazeem said.
Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, counsel to Evans, Amadi, Uchechukwu, Ifeanyi and Aduba told the court that he and his team had not got the opportunity to “confer” with his clients.
“With respect to the application from the learned Attorney-General, we shall not be opposing same.
“However, the defence team just had the opportunity of meeting our clients this morning in court for the first time, we were just served with documents in the open court this morning.
“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,” Ogungbeje said.
The vacation judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi asked the Attorney-General for his choice of prison for the defendants to be remanded.
Remanding Evans and his alleged accomplices, Oshodi said:“ The first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth defendants shall be remanded in the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons.
`While the third defendant shall be remanded in the female wing of the Kirikiri Prison.”
“This case is adjourned to October 19 for trial.”
Meanwhile, counsel to Evans, Olukoya Ogungbeje, has accused the police of making his client to plead guilty when he was arraigned at the Ikeja high court.
Ogunbeje however said the plea would be changed to not guilty at the next court sitting.
“The information/charge sheet was served on us in open court hence, the need to confer with our client to enable us avail ourselves with the constitutional right of adequate time and facility to put up our defence,” Ogungbeje said in a statement.
“The court, after turning down our plea for adjournment, immediately ordered that the counts charges be read to him and others despite our plea for the adjournment to enable us confer with our client in accordance with the law.
“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 failure to which they would kill him.
“This is definitely unconstitutional and we intend to challenge this unconstitutional procedure for hoodwinking, undue influence, brainwashing and coercion on an accused into entering a guilty plea against his wish and free will.
“He pointedly told us that being informed 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.”