An Igbosere High Court in Lagos on Friday dismissed the application seeking to quash a fresh charge filed against the alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (Evans).
In dismissing the application, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo said the court had the jurisdiction to hear the case, saying a prima facie case had been established.
The Lagos State Government had filed two separate charges against Evans. Evans was docked in the first charge with Victor Aduba on conspiracy, kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms. In the second charge, Evans was arraigned with three other defendants — Joseph Emeka, Chiemeka Arinze, and Udeme Upong. They are facing charges bordering on murder, attempt to commit murder, attempt to kidnap, sale and transfer of firearms.
While ruling on the application to quash the charge, Taiwo said: “It is my humble view that this charge did not offend the provisions of Sections 152 and 153 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) which states that every offence shall be tried separately. “Thus the two counts of unlawful possession of firearms are not defective, they can stand on their own.” “She said there was no duplicity in the charge because the provisions of the law was dully satisfied.”
On whether there is authorisation from the Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute the defendants for a federal offence, Taiwo said the letter is attached to the proof of evidence.
She said letter of authorisation sufficiently disclosed that the defendants could be prosecuted by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Taiwo added that the proof of evidence linked the defendants to the charge before the court, saying “if the charge were brought before one judge, it will make the trial lengthy and complex. “However, the application is misconceived and lacks merit. This court has jurisdiction to entertain the charge, the application is hereby dismissed.”
However, an amended charge was brought for arraignment of the defendants in the second charge but the defence counsel, Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, argued that the amended charge was irregularly filed. The judge held: “I find that the amended charge is irregularly filed. However, this does not warrant that the charge should be struck out.
“All the prosecution needs to do is to file the proof of evidence and serve same on the defence before the next date of appearance.”
After the ruling of the court, Evans and Aduba were arraigned on the four-count charge bordering on conspiracy, kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms. The duo pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
During the last hearing, counsel to Evans, had urged the court to quash the charge for abuse of court processes. Ogungbeje argued that in the first charge, the first and second counts which bordered on alleged kidnapping, constituted gross abuse of court’s process because the defendant had been charged with same offence before Justice Hakeem Oshodi in Ikeja.
The lawyer said unlawful possession of firearms which the defendants were being tried for was a federal offence which should be prosecuted by the Attorney-General of the Federation. On the second charge of seven-count offence of murder, attempt to commit murder, attempt to kidnap and sale and transfer of firearms, Ogungbeje said counts one, two and three were based on murder, adding that before murder could be sustained there must be evidence to prove that someone was killed.
Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey, who stood for the Prosecution, however, urged the court to dismiss the arguments made by the defendant’s counsel.
Trial was fixed for December 15.