…He was coerced to plead guilty, lawyer alleges
By Romanus Okoye and Lukman Olabiyi
The notorious kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a Evans and his five accomplices were yesterday arraigned before a Lagos High Court, Ikeja presided over by Justice Hakeem Oshodi on two count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
While Evans, Uche Amadi and Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu pleaded guilty, Ogechi Uchechukwu, ChilakaIfeanyi and Victor Chukwunonso Aduba, pleaded not guilty.
However, Evan’s lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, alleged that his client was forced to plead guilty to the charges preferred against him and others by the Lagos State Government.
Ogungbeje, who has been representing him in his N300 million fundamental rights suit against the police, said his client may have pleaded guilty under duress or after heavy brainwashing. He said: “The law must take its full course and the coming days will determine the way the matter will go. But we must put it on record that we were not allowed access to our client by the police. It was this morning that we had time to talk with him. By law, we need time to go through the accusations and prepare our defence or even decide whether we can defend him.”
However, the Attorney General Lagos State, Kazeem Adeniji, who was in court told journalists that he was satisfied with the proceedings. He said that while the court would continue with the trial of the three that pleaded not guilty, the evidence of the others who pleaded guilty would be presented before them before the court will determine their conviction and sentencing.
On his part, the head of the legal team, Police Commissioner’s office, David Igbodo, said more charges would follow between now and October 19, the adjourned date. According to him, it was one, out of the 10 files submitted by the investigation that the police IG approved the two charges filed in the court.
The six accused persons entered the court under the protection of heavy security at 8. 56 a.m. After the proceedings, a heavy crowd awaited the departure of the defendants who were shielded from journalists.
The IGP team, led by Mr Abba Kyari, arrested Evans three months ago through the efforts of three women suspected to be the kingpin’s girlfriends namely; Amaka, Ijeoma and Ngozi.
The operatives were said to have discovered that Evans was very close to Amaka and he rented an apartment for her in Okota area of Lagos State.
On discovering that Evans was sleeping in Amaka’s house on a regular basis, they decided to use her to lure him but the kingpin on perceiving that Amaka had been arrested by the police avoided her as much as he could.
Luck, however, ran out on him as an informant in Magodo informed the police that he had located Evans’ apartment. Evans, according to the report, was very elusive as he was aware that the police were on to him.
According to the source, Evans, who was unaware that those police operatives had located his Magodo apartment, contacted Amaka.
The source said: “He was said to have called her on the phone around 4:15 am, without knowing that some policemen were with her and asked her to wait outside her compound to meet him.
“She reportedly joined him later at the spot and as soon as she got into the car, he attacked her, threatening to kill her for not informing him about the police presence in her house.
“Evans was said to be angry and drove away with her in his Grand Cherokee SUV and they had an accident at Iyana-Ipaja area where he abandoned the vehicle, seized Amaka’s phone and asked her to go home.
“It was from there that he picked a cab to his residence at Magodo to pick some few things towards travelling out of the country. Thereafter, we swooped on him and arrested him inside his bedroom.”
“After the purported guilty plea of our client and the court rose. We stressed to have brief discussion time with our client and ‘he told us clearly that the police told him to plead guilty failure to which the police would kill him.
“This is definitely unconstitutional and we intend to challenge the procedure for hoodwinking, undue influence, brainwashing and coercing on an accused into entering a guilty plea against his wish and freewill.
“He pointedly told us that being informed now, he will change his ‘police motivated guilty plea’ to ‘not guilty’ at the next adjourned date.
“It is settled law that plea of guilty must be made voluntary and direct devoid of any influence, coercion and manipulation.
“In the meantime, after our brief conferring with our client in open court, he made it known to us that he will change his police motivate guilty plea to not guilty at the next adjourned date. We have a responsibility to assist the cause of justice in accordance with the law.” (The Sun)