Evans makes U-Turn in court, pleads ‘not guilty’
Barely 41 days after his first arraignment, the notorious billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a Evans, on Thursday entered a plea of “not guilty” as he was re-arraigned on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping at an Ikeja High Court.
National Daily learnt that Evans had on 30th August, pleaded guilty to the charges while his accomplices denied not committing the offence for which they were charged.
They were charged with the kidnap of Mr Donatius Duru on August 30.
It was learnt that the punishment section in the second count of amended charge was changed from Section 271 (3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State to Section 2(1) of the Kidnap Prohibition Law of the Laws of Lagos 2017.
The prosecution led by Ms. P.K. Shitta-bey, the State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Evans and his accomplices committed the offence of conspiracy at 7.45 p.m. on February 14 on Obokun Street, Ilupeju, Lagos.
The prosecution said the defendants had between February 14 and April 12 at Obokun Street, Ilupeju, armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, and forcefully captured and detained Duru.
He was said to have a ransom of 223,000 euros before the victim was released.
National Daily learnt that before the amended charges were read to the defendants, Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, the counsel to Evans and Amadi opposed its reading.
“On behalf of the first and second defendants, we were served with the amended charge this morning. My Lord, we had earlier filed an application and the learned prosecutor also filed us a counter-affidavit, My Lord, grant us a very short date to ‘confer’ with the first and second defendants about this amended charge.
“We intend bringing a motion after their plea, I urge your Lordship to grant us a very short date,” Ogungbeje pleaded.
Mr Joseph Otogbolu, counsel to Uchechukwu, Mr A.A Uzokwu, counsel to Ifeanyi and Mr Emmanuel Ochai, counsel to Aduba, all aligned with the submission of Ogungbeje and asked for an adjournment to ‘confer’ with the defendants.
Mr O. Ajanaku, counsel to Nwachukwu, however, did not oppose the reading of the amended charge to the defendants.
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“I am not opposing the charges being read to the defendants, the only change in the charge is just the law and the punishment section.
“I am ready for the charge to be taken and to go on with the trial,” he said.
Shitta-bey, however, opposed the request for adjournment by the counsel to the defendants.
“I will be opposing the application for adjournment, the court should allow the charges to be read to them and their pleas taken.
“Section 155(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State does not allow any formal application from the prosecution to amend charges.
In resolving the issue, Justice Oshodi told the court that Nwachukwu should be asked who would stand for him as his counsel of choice because under the law, a defendant in criminal matters is entitled to a counsel of his choice.
When he was asked whom he preferred, Nwachukwu said “It is Ajanaku.”
When the court resumed after the stand-down, the charges were read to the defendants and their pleas were taken.
Justice Oshodi adjourned the case until November 3 to enable the defence to prepare for trial.