The Lagos State government could not arraign billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans, due to its failure to back the charge sheet with a valid proof of evidence.
The state had filed a fresh charge against the notorious kidnapper at the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere for the alleged murder of two persons.
The presiding judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, held that the charge sheet was irregularly filed, having not been accompanied with a valid proof of evidence, an error, she pointed out, was fundamental and could not be overlooked.
The judge held, “I find that the amended charge is irregularly filed. However, this does not warrant that the charges should be struck out. All the prosecution needs to do is to file the proof of evidence and serve same on the defense before the next date of appearance.”
However, rather than dismissing the seven charges, as prayed by Evans’ lawyer, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, the judge directed the prosecution, led by the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, to do the needful by attaching a valid proof of evidence.
She, therefore, adjourned till December 15, 2017, for the state to return for Evans’ arraignment and for the defendants to take their plea.
Ogungbeje had, in an application, he filed seeking the quashing of the charges, pointed out that the state had amended the original charge sheet but did not file a fresh proof of evidence to replace the one earlier filed.
He quoted Section 251 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State and cited the case of a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, who, he said, was discharged by the Code of Conduct Tribunal for the failure of the prosecution to attach proof of evidence to the charge sheet.
In the proposed seven charges, the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions accused Evans and three others of killing two persons, in their failed attempt to kidnap the Chairman of Young Grow Motors, Obianodo Vincent.
The state listed those murdered in the botched kidnapping as Peter Nweke and Chijioke Ngozi.
The criminal operation was said to have been carried out by the defendants around 11 pm on August 27, 2013, on Third Avenue, Festac Town, Lagos.
Those charged along with Evans are Joseph Emeka, Chiemeka Arinze, and Udeme Upong.
The seven charges against them border on attempted murder, murder, kidnapping and illegal firearms deal.
In one of the charges, the prosecution stated that the fourth defendant, Upong, sold and transferred two Ak47 rifles to Evans sometime in 2008.
According to the Lagos DPP, Evans and his co-defendants acted contrary to sections 221, 228(1), 404(1) and 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
They were also said to have violated Section 9(2) of the Firearms Act, Cap F28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and liable to be punished under Section 27(b)(iii) of the same law.