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Court orders Evans, others to get counsel before June 14

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A Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Thursday ordered alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike alias Evans and three other defendants to ensure they have legal representation before June 14 as prosecution counsel, Y. G. Oshoala, accused Evans of playing games.

Evans is standing trial alongside Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba on two counts of conspiracy and kidnap of the Chief Executive Officer of Maydon Pharmaceutical Limited, Donatus Dunu, from whose family they allegedly collected €223,000 as ransom.

At Thursday’s proceedings, counsel to Evans, Amadi, Uchechukwu and Ifeanyi were absent in court.

Oshoala and Nwachukwu’s counsel, A. A. Uzokwu, accused Evans of playing games in the bid to stall his trial which had suffered several adjournments due to the absence of his counsel.

Uzokwu told the court that they were ready to proceed but was handicapped because of the absence of the other defence counsel.

He said, “What is happening now is like they are like a stationary vehicle, some of us are behind that stationary vehicle and because it is not moving, we cannot move.”

Oshoala, however, urged the court to appoint counsel for the defendants.

He said, “My Lord, yesterday, we were before your learned brother, Justice Akintoye at the Igbosere High Court, the case was adjourned and that was the third adjournment granted by that court at the instance of the first defendant (Evans).

“It is a game they are playing and I pray the court to assist the state and invoke Section 233(3) of the ACJL which allows the court to appoint counsel for the defendants in these circumstances.

“We brought our witness from out of the jurisdiction or if the defendants so wish, they can defend themselves, it is their constitutional right.

Following the development, the presiding judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi, mandated Evans and the three other defendants to ensure they have legal representation before June 14.

He also directed that counsel from the Office of the Public Defender should be in court on the next adjourned date to represent the defendants in case they failed to get counsel to represent them in court.

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He said, “If on the next day, the defence counsel are not around, the court will order the defendants to either represent themselves or the court invokes Section 233(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.

“The prosecution shall also notify the Office of the Public Defender to be in court on the next adjourned date.

“This case is adjourned to June 14 for the continuation of the evidence of PW4.”

Punch

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