An application filed by Kidnap Kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike popularly known as Evans, seeking to quash two separate charges brought against him and four others by the Lagos State government, yesterday stalled their fresh arraignment.
The state had filed new charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, attempted murder, murder and possession of firearms before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere; but the planned arraignment could not go on due to the preliminary application.
It would be recalled that the state government had last week Thursday arraigned Evans and five others on a two count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping of one Dunu Donatus before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Ikeja division of the court.
One of the new charges filed before the court has seven counts of conspiracy and the Attempted Kidnap of the chairman of “The Young Shall Grow Motors”, Vincent Amaechi Obianodo.
In counts one and two, the alleged mastermind, Evans, one Joseph Emeka and another Chiemeka Arinze are charged with the murder of Peter Nweke and Chigozie Ngozi who are said to be police officers attached to the Chairman of “The Young Shall Grow Motors”, Vincent Amaechi Obianodo.
In count three, the defendants are charged with the attempted kidnap of Obianodo while in counts four and five, they are charged with conspiracy and the attempted kidnap of Obianodo.
The offences were allegedly committed at about 22.00 hours on the 23rd of August, 2013, along 3rd Avenue, Festac Town, Lagos.
In count six and seven, the fourth defendant, One Udeme Upong allegedly sold and transferred two AK 47 Rifles and 70 rounds of live ammunition to Evans.
In the second charge made of four counts, Evans is alleged to have conspired with Joseph Ikenna Emeka and Chiemeka Arinze to kidnap one Sylvanus Hafia.
When the case was called, counsel to Evans, Olukoya Ogungbeje asked the court to first hear and determine the application challenging the competency of the charges and the court’s jurisdiction to try his client.
In the application brought pursuant to Section 55 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and Section 6 & 36 of the 1999 Constitution, Ogungbeje argued that the charges are bad for duplicity and constitute a gross abuse of court process.
He also argued that the charges disclosed no ‘prima facie case’ against his client.
The lawyer submitted that counts four and five constitutes a gross abuse of court’s process as similar charges on the same offence of kidnapping had earlier been filed by the prosecution against his client in charge numbers; LD/5962/2017 and ID/5970/2017.
Ogungbeje also argued that counts six and seven of the charge is a gross abuse of court process as the same offence of firearms had earlier been filed by the prosecution in charge number; LD/5962C/2017.
He further maintained that Evans has been erroneously charged with a federal offence and under a federal law by the Attorney General of Lagos State.
Ogungbeje said his client was consequently arraigned alongside five members of his gang by the Lagos State government on a two-count charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping.
However, in its counter-affidavit, the Lagos State government contended that the charge numbers; LD/5962/2017 and ID/5970/2017, referred to by the applicant are separate and distinct from the new charges.
The state insisted that the second to fourth defendants in the new charge are not defendants in charge number; ID/5970C/2017.
It also stated that apart from the confessional statements of Evans, arms and ammunitions were recovered from him and his cohorts.
The government claimed that the charges were valid and competent having satisfied the provisions of the relevant laws and that it has enough evidence to proceed against Evans.
It was further claimed that the application is vexatious and calculated to delay and frustrate the trial of Evans.
Justice Taiwo has adjourned the matter till Friday the 27th of October for hearing of the application to quash the charges or to proceed with trial.