The trial of Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, has once again been adjourned due to the absence of his counsel in court.
The trial, which has been in process for about four years now, was earlier slated for Friday and was presided over by Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja.
Evans, along with his co-defendants, Uche Amadi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi and Victor Aduba, had previously been arraigned before Justice Oshodi on August 31, 2017 on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
The gang was alleged to have kidnapped Donatus Dunu, the Managing Director of Maydon Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Dunu was kidnapped on Ilupeju Road, Lagos State, on February 14, 2017 and the defendants allegedly collected €223,000 as ransom from Dunu’s family.
The trial had experienced several delays in the past due to varying factors and Friday has not be the first time Evans appeared in court without his counsel.
On November 24, 2017, Evans’ counsel failed to appear before the Igbosere High Court in Lagos and the matter was adjourned until January 22, 2018 for hearing.
Again, on January 22, 2018, the late arrival of Evans’ counsel stalled the court proceedings as the counsel only walked in when the case had been adjourned. The matter was then adjourned until February 28, 2018.
On June 26, 2020, the trial was stalled due to the absence of the defence counsel for Uche Amadi and Ogechi Uchechukwu (second and third defendants respectively).
Justice Oshodi had said, “The court notes with disgust the attitude of the counsel to the second and third defendants. Their absence today has stalled any progress in this case.”
It should be noted that Evans has had at least four defence counsel during the course of his trial, namely Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, Mr Noel Brown, Mr Olanrewaju Ajanaku, and Mr Victor Okpara.
Earlier this year, the absence of a witness who was to testify in Evans’ defence had stalled his trial before the court as the witness, whose name was not provided, could no longer be reached via phone. The case was then adjourned until July 29, 2021.
While the five co-defendants, as well as their counsel, were all present in court on Friday, Evans’ counsel was nowhere in sight.
Our correspondent gathered that Evans’ counsel, Victor Okpara, was in Abuja and could not fly down to Lagos for the trial due to bad weather.
Reacting to Okpara’s absence, Justice Oshodi threatened the 1st defendant, Evans, saying, “You would handle your case all by yourself if your counsel does not appear on the next adjourned date.”
Justice Oshodi thereafter adjourned the case until August 3, 2021, for the continuation of defence.
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