Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, counsel to the alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a Evans, on Friday urged an Igbosere High Court on Lagos Island to quash a fresh charge filed against Evans by the Lagos State Government.
He called it an abuse of court processes. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Evans was brought to court on two separate charges.
In the first charge, Evans was docked with one Victor Aduba on a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy, kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms. They were accused of conspiring and kidnapping Mr Sylvanus Hafia.
During Ogungbeje’s argument, he told the court that his application was brought pursuant to Section 55 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State 2015 and Sections 36 (6) (b) of the 1999 Constitution.
He said in the first charge which contained four-counts, “the first and second counts which border 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.
“We are saying, even if there are different victims on same offence, why can’t the prosecution bring the charge together for same judge to hear and determine.”
Ogungbeje also brought the issue of counts three and four, bordering on unlawful possession of firearms, saying that there was repetitions of same offence on both counts.
He said unlawful possession of firearms which the defendants were being tried for is a federal offence which should be prosecuted by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
“We have checked through the court’s processes to see if there is a fiat from the AGF, authorising Lagos State to prosecute a federal offence, there is none,” Ogungbeje said.
He also argued in the same manner regarding the second charge which bordered on seven-count charge 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.
“In the proof of evidence before the court, there is no police investigation, a forensic evidence or a documentary evidence to buttress these points.”
Ogungbeje also said counts four and five were based on kidnapping which the defendants have been charged with, thereby making the charge repetitive.
He also said that counts six and seven were based on same sale and transfer of firearms, describing it as repetitive and duplicitous. “We are submitting that the charge is an abuse of court process and is prejudicial to the defendants.”
Other counsel representing the other defendants, Mr Emmanuel Ochai, and Ogedi Ogu, however, agreed with the submissions of Ogungbeje. However, Ogu, who represented the third defendant, Chiemeka Arinze, asked the court to remand the defendants in prison to enable Arinze to get medical help.
The Prosecutor, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, however, urged the court to dismiss all the arguments made by the defendant’s counsel. She said that there was no abuse of court process in the way the case was instituted because a count should contain only one offence.
She said that the co-defendants in the case, the time and place the offences were committed should also be taken into cognizance while drafting a charge.
“The offences were committed in different places, the victims are different and the co-defendants are different. “I submit there are sufficient grounds to prosecute the defendants, the charges are drafted in accordance with provisions of ACJL,” Shitta-Bey said.
“It is not feasible to bring the case before one court for reasons of logistics, it will make the case of the prosecution difficult to proof.”
Shitta-Bey also said that the prosecution had the fiat of the AGF, adding that the fiat was a general fiat obtained in January and it is attached to the prove of evidence.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, however, remanded the defendants in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons and adjourned the case until Nov. 10 for ruling on the application.