- Evans unrepentant, comfortably lied to court, says judge
A Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, yesterday convicted and sentenced kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans, and two others to life imprisonment for conspiracy and kidnapping.
In his judgement, Justice Hakeem Oshodi found the billionaire kidnapper guilty on a two-count charge of kidnapping the Managing Director of Maydon Pharmaceuticals Limited, Donatus Dunu.
Others convicted alongside Evans are Uche Amadi and Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu.
Evans, who evaded arrest for four years, was eventually arrested in his bedroom at his residence in Magodo, a highbrow area of Lagos, on June 10, 2017, by the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team, (IRT).
Prior to his arrest, Evans had a N30 million bounty on his head and was on a list of most wanted criminals of the police in three states -Lagos, Edo, and Anambra.
Events that led to the arrest of the kidnap kingpin, Evans were set in motion by the miraculous escape, from their hideout, of one of his victims, Donatus Duru, a wealthy owner of a pharmaceutical company at Ilupeju, Lagos.
Duru, who was kidnapped in front of his office after the day’s work on February 14, 2017, was transported in the booth of his car to their den where he spent months, even after his family paid N150 million ransom, but was not released because the kidnappers insisted on collecting N500 million. They threatened to kill him if the full ransom was not paid, but he luckily escaped from their hideout located at Igando, a suburb of Lagos.
The information Duru gave led to the arrest of members of the kidnap gang, including Evans, their leader, by the Inspector General’s IRT. He was said to have packed his bag in preparation for a journey to South Africa the next day.
The judge held that the prosecution had succeeded in proving the charge against the three convicts beyond a reasonable doubt.
Justice Oshodi held that the evidence tendered before the court specifically the video evidence corraborated the guilt of the convicts.
The judge further held that he observed the demeanour of Evans in the dock and concluded, “He showed no remorse in the dock and tried to lie his way out of the crimes despite the video evidence.
The judge noted that in some of the confessional video exhibits played in court, Evans mentioned some of the other defendants and the roles they played in the crime.
Justice Oshodi pointed out, “he was seen freely laughing and willingly answered questions. A close look at his body shows no sign of torture.
He did not look unkempt. He is seen laughing even when he was told that he must be a rich kidnapper. “In court, he alleged that the recordings were staged, this is an afterthought and a ploy to escape justice. I, therefore, found the first, second and fourth defendants guilty of the charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping and they are convicted as charged,” he held.
However, the court discharged and acquitted Ogechi Uchechukwu and two former soldiers of the Nigerian Army, Chilaka Ifeanyi and Victor Aduba for lack of sufficient evidence linking them to the crime.
In his plea for mercy after the court found the defendants guilty, the defence lawyers urged the judge to temper justice with mercy by giving the convicts a second chance.
They said that they have demonstrated remorse
and were first-time offenders.
But the judge disagreed with the defence lawyers that the convicts have shown remorse, he stated that they are unrepentant and they comfortably lied to the court.
Justice Oshodi, therefore, held that the law must be applied to send the right message to the public that crime does not pay.
He further held, “under the section of the law on which the convicts were arraigned, the penalty for the offence of kidnapping is life imprisonment and the law does not give the court any discretion in the matter. I hereby sentenced the three convicts to imprisonment.”
The state had claimed that the convicts committed the alleged offence between February 14 and April 12, 2017.
The prosecution had further told the court that the incident took place at about 7:45p.m., along Obokun Street, Ilupeju, Lagos.
He disclosed that on April 12, Evans alongside the other five defendants while armed with guns and other weapons captured, detained and collected a ransom of 223,000 Euros from Donatus for his release.
The Lagos State Government had arraigned them before the court on August 30, 2017 Section 155 subsection 1 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2017, carries life imprisonment.
The prosecution closed its case against the defendants on January 10, 2020, after presenting four witnesses, including Dunu while the defence closed its case on August 3, 2020, after the six defendants testified.
Evans is also facing similar charges before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo and Justice Adedayo Akintoye of the Ikeja High Court.