£223,000 Ransom: Court Frowns at Billionaire Kidnapper, Evans’ Failure to File Defence

Wale Igbintade

Justice Kayode Ogunjobi of the Lagos High Court, yesterday expressed displeasure over the attitude of the convicted kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, a.k.a. Evans for failing to file his defence in a case instituted against him by one of his victims, Chief Donatus Dunu.

The judge complained that the matter had suffered several adjournments, stressing that the delay was hurting everybody and putting the state at expenses.

Duru, a kidnap victim had in 2018 filed the suit demanding for return of the sum of £223,000 he paid as ransom while in the custody of the kidnap kingpin.

The claimant is also demanding for additional sum of N50 million as damages.

When the case was called yesterday, Mr. Maxwell Chukwuemeka, announced his appearance for the defendant (Evans).

Chukwuemeka, told the court that he had filed two applications, namely, a motion for change of counsel and a motion for amendment of the defendant’s statement of defence.

Chukwuemeka, was seeking to represent the defendant.

The claimant’s counsel, Mr. D. O. Obiora, however told the court that the defendant has been changing counsel but did not oppose the applications.

Obiora, argued that the court delivered a ruling on May 23, granting leave for the defendant to file his statement of defence, yet he did not file it, but was seeking leave of the court to amend his applications.

The trial judge, Justice Kayode Ogunjobi, however, granted the two applications.

The judge complained that, “this matter has suffered several adjournments. The delay is hurting everybody and putting the state at expenses.

“We have been here since 2018 till 2022, at the instance of the defendant. I awarded a cost of N2.5 million because the delay was unwarranted.

“If there is further delay, I will award another cost because I don’t see why you have an application to amend your statement of defence and you didn’t come with the amended statement to file it.”

Justice Ogunjobi, thereafter adjourned the case until July 13 for the defence to open its case.

The claimant had instituted the suit on May 16, 2018, and served the defendant through the Comptroller General of Prison Kirikiri maximum prison Lagos.

Evans was initially represented by a lawyer in March 2019, and was accorded every opportunity to defend the suit but failed to do so.

However, when the claimant closed his case on March 3, 2022, the defendant came back seeking leave of court to defend himself.

According to Evans he has been in prison custody since August 2017, and was not aware of the pendency of the action.

He stated that he became aware of the suit in 2019, when he was already out of time to file his defence.

He said immediately he became aware of the suit, he contracted a lawyer to defend him.

The defendant added that sometime in March, he was informed that his former lawyer had ceased to represent him and had not filed a statement of defence.

Justice Ogunjobi had in his ruling held that the principle of fair hearing demands that the defendant be given opportunity to defend himself.

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