Court orders public defender to take over Evans’ case - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

Court orders public defender to take over Evans’ case

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By Our Correspondent

Justice Hakeem Oshodi of an Ikeja High Court on Friday ordered the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender (OPD) to take over the defence of alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans due to his inability to afford legal fees.

At Friday’s proceedings, the Lagos State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) informed the court that his team placed a phone call to the law chambers of Ladi Williams (SAN) and Company, who represented Evans’ on the last court date to enquire about the whereabouts of Evans’ counsel.

The commissioner noted that his team was informed by the law firm that Evans has not perfected their brief.

Evans, who was arraigned alongside five others on August 30, 2017 on two -count of conspiracy and kidnapping has changed lawyers at least five times during the course of his trial.

Some of the lawyers who have represented Evans include Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, Mr. Noel Brown and Mr. Olanrewaju Ajanaku.

Reacting to the absence of defence counsel, Justice Oshodi noted that Evans has developed a habit of engaging the services of lawyers who disappear halfway through trial resulting in unwarranted delays.

“There are five other defendants with different counsels; the interest of the first defendant (Evans) is not superior to those of the other defendants.

“The court will not breach Section 36 (6) of the 1999 Constitution by going ahead with today’s business of the court which is the hearing of the no-case submissions,” he said.

Justice Oshodi thereafter, ordered that a counsel from the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender who was in court, Ms. E.E. Okonkwo, to take-over Evans’ defence.

Following the judge’s ruling, Evans co-defendants, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba filed no-case submission asking the court to dismiss the charges against them.

The second defendant, Uche Amadi however, did not file a no-case submission.

Defence counsel, Roger Adewole, Olanrewaju Ajanaku, M.C. Izokwu and Emmanuel Ochai told the court that no prima facie case has been made against their clients by the state and therefore, urged the court to dismiss the case against them.

Responding, the attorney general asked the court to dismiss the no-case submission of the four co-defendants, asserting that “the defendants are asking the court to do something that cannot be done. They are asking the court to analyse evidence and go beyond the window that a no-case submission requires.

“All that the court needs to do is to show that there is prima facie evidence. There is before the court, legally admissible prima facie evidence enough for the defendants to enter their defence.

“I urge the court to dismiss all the applications and that the defendants proceed to enter their defence.”

Justice Oshodi adjourned the case until August 14 for ruling and possible continuation of trial.