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An Ikeja High Court on Friday gave suspected billionaire kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike alias Evans till May 10 to get a counsel to defend the criminal charges against him.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo told Evans, whose case has suffered three adjournments following his failure to secure legal representation, that he had only three options.
Evans could defend himself, get a new counsel or the court would appoint a legal aid counsel for him, the court said.
The judge gave the warning following the third consecutive absence of Evans’ lawyer, Mr Olanrewaju Ajanaoku.
Ajanaoku, who skipped the last proceedings over issues of unpaid legal fees, had earlier informed the court, through a letter, that Evans’ family was yet to perfect their brief, in terms of financial commitment.
Evans is standing trial alongside Joseph Ikenna Emeka, 29, Chiemeka Arinze, 39, Udeme Frank Upong, 43, on a seven-count charge of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to kidnap and selling of firearms.
At the commencement of Friday’s proceedings, Chief State Prosecution Counsel, Adebayo Haroun, prayed the court to invoke Section 233 (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) which empowers the court to appoint a counsel for the defendant.
Haroun said: “Where the defendant fails to secure legal representation, the court has the discretion to order the legal aid counsel to provide a representation for the first defendant, Evans.
“This is the third adjournment taken at the instance of the first defendant. So, we urge Your Lordship to invoke Section 233 of the ACJL if the defendant fails to provide a counsel on the next adjournment.”
The prosecutor also informed the court that his witness, a police officer, Inspector Idowu Haruna, attached to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team (IRT), was present to resume his evidence.
Responding, Justice Taiwo warned Evans of the consequences of his failure to get a new counsel.
Justice Taiwo said, “I have told you (referring to Evans) the options; defend yourself, get a new counsel or I’ll appoint a legal aid counsel for you.
“This case is not just for you, there are other defendants involved. Therefore, the liberty of the second, third, and fourth defendants, who also demand justice, is also at stake. And justice delayed is justice denied.
“In the circumstances, I’ll adjourn this matter till May 10 and the first defendant must provide a counsel.
“However, in the absence of the counsel for the first defendant, on the next adjourned date, this court will invoke Section 233 (3) of the ACJL and order the representation of the legal aid counsel for him,” the judge said.