After a four-year trial, kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike alias Evans, on Friday got life imprisonment for conspiring with two others to kidnap Mr Donatius Dunu, Chief Executive Officer, Maydon Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi of an Ikeja High Court, who passed the sentence, said that Evans and two others did not show any remorse during the trial in spite of huge evidence against them.
Lagos State Government prosecuted Evans and five others before the court.
In a three-hour judgment, Oshodi held that the state proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against Evans and two of his co-defendants – Uche Amadi and Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu.
The judge convicted the trio on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
He, however, discharged and acquitted the other co-defendants – Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi an ex-soldier; and Victor Aduba, also an ex-soldier.
Oshodi held that there was no evidence linking them to the crimes.
“It has to be stated that none of the three defendants showed any remorse during the trial. Despite the huge evidence stacked against them, they tried to lie their way out.
“The court is also mindful of the harrowing experience of the victim of the kidnapping, to be restrained and blindfolded during the period of his captivity until his escape.
“A lesson must be taught. In this respect, the law is the law which must be upheld.
“Section 2(1) of the Kidnapping Prohibition Law of Lagos State, 2017 prescribes a punishment of life imprisonment. The court has no discretion.
“In this respect, the first, second and fourth defendants – Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike a.k.a Evans, Uche Amadi and Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu – are each hereby sentenced to life imprisonment. This is the sentence of the court,” he held.
Earlier, Oshodi dismissed an allegation made by Evans in his final written address to the effect that he was tortured by the police into confessing to the crimes, in contravention of Section 9(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
The judge said that two video tapes of Evans’s confession to the police, which where played in court, showed him smiling while admitting to the crimes.
He added that a close analysis of his physical appearance in the videos showed no evidence of torture.
Oshodi noted that during the trial, Evans claimed that on Feb. 14, 2017, the day Dunu was kidnapped, he was at home with his wife.
“He never elected to call his wife to corroborate this crucial fact, instead, he elected to call his sister (Mrs Ndubuisi Obiechina) to give evidence on his behalf.
“His sister, during cross-examination, agreed that she did not know the movement of the first defendant (Evans) on Feb. 14, 2017.
“Without mincing words, the evidence of DW2 (Obiechina) is tainted.
“She decided to focus on the extrajudicial statement made by the first defendant despite the fact that the court had undertaken an investigation on the validity of the statement in a trial-within-trial,” he said.
Before the sentence was passed, counsel to Evans, Mr H. O. Ajibola, in his allocutus (plea for mercy), told the court that he believed that Evans had turned a new leaf.
“I pray my lord tempers justice with mercy; this is his first conviction,” he said.
Counsel to Amadi, Ms Evelyn Obogwu, said that her client was a first-time offender.
“He has a son and aged parents who depend on him for livelihood. I urge my lord to be lenient,” she prayed.
Mr Olanrewaju Ajanaku, counsel to Nwachukwu, also pleaded for mercy for his client, saying that the father of three had become remorseful.
“I pray your lordship will temper justice with mercy and integrate him into the society because he has learnt his lesson and seen the folly of his ways,” he said.
Lagos State Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey, in her response, prayed for a harsh sentence on the convicts to serve as a deterrent.
“In view of the gravity of the offence which is very prevalent in our society, I urge this honourable court to impose a harsh sentence that will serve as a deterrent to people of similar minds.
“The message has to be sent out loud and clear, through the punishment meted out to the defendants, that there will be zero tolerance for this type of criminal act in our society,” Shitta-Bey said.
This is the first judgment delivered of the five kidnapping trials Evans is facing at the various High Courts of Lagos State.
Evans and his co-defendants were arraigned before Oshodi on Aug. 31, 2017, on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
According prosecution, Dunu was kidnapped by Evans and his other gang members on Feb. 14, 2017, on Obokun Street, Ilupeju Road, Lagos State, and was shackled and blindfolded during his 88-day ordeal.
It said that the gang collected 223,000 euros as ransom from Dunu’s family for his release.
Prosecution closed its case on Jan. 10, 2020, after presenting four witnesses, including Dunu
Defence closed its case on Aug. 3, 2021, after the six defendants and Evans’s sister, Mrs Ndubuisi Obiechina testified.
The offences are in violation of Section 2(1) of the Kidnapping Prohibition Law, No. 13, Laws of Lagos State, 2017, and Section 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015. (NAN)