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Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a. Evans, broke down in tears on Monday before the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere where he was produced for arraignment on fresh two charges of kidnapping.
After initially refusing to come down from the prison van in protest, he was eventually brought into the courtroom by warders on the order of Justice Adedayo Akintoye.
Stepping into the courtroom bare-footed and in handcuffs, Evans, who wore a pair of shorts and a green T-shirt, torn on the shoulder with sand stain on the back, immediately indicated to the judge that he had something to say.
He said, “I have an explanation to make. Since I have been in the maximum prison, they have been maltreating me; no visit, they don’t feed me well, I have eye problem and I cannot see far.”
But he was countered by one of the prison officials, who maintained that Evans was being given the same treatment as other inmates.
“We have been treating him very well; he is well fed and people have been visiting him. A doctor has been checking him; the doctor came to check him yesterday (Sunday) and even this morning before coming to court, because he was saying he can’t be in court, that he is not feeling fine.
“But when the doctor checked him yesterday (Sunday) and this morning, the doctor said he was healthy and that he saw no reason why he couldn’t be in court,” the official said.
But Evans said he was seen by a nurse rather than a doctor. The counsel for the second defendant, Ogedi Ogbu, told the court that his client, Joseph Emeka, had also made the same complaints to him. But the Lagos State Director of Prosecutions, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, said Evans was only making up an excuse, urging the court not to buy it.
“That was the same thing he said before an Ikeja High Court and we wrote the prisons and they wrote us back that he was being taken care of like every other inmate,” Shitta-Bey said.
Reacting, Justice Akintoye directed the prison officials to ensure that Evans and his co-defendants were treated like other inmates, noting that they were still presumed innocent. On the request of Evans’ lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, who had earlier written to the court, praying that the case be stood down, the judge acceded to his request and stood the case down.
Soon as the judge rose, Evans broke down in tears. “What have I done to you people? They have been beating me; no good food; I have been locked up in one place since August 30 last year; why are they taking my case personally? Let me face my trial alive, why do you people want to kill me,” he said sobbing.
About then his lawyer, Ogungbeje came into the courtroom and began to pacify him. The defendants were eventually arraigned on the fresh charges. Evans was arraigned alongside Joseph Emeka, Linus Okpara and Victor Aduba.
The charges border on “conspiracy and unlawful capture.”
The state alleged in the charges that the defendants conspired with some persons still at large, to “unlawfully capture one Uche Okorafor, on the 21st of November, 2014, at Festac Town, Lagos and demanded a ransom of $2m.”
The DPP said they acted contrary to sections 409 and 269 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2011, adding that they were liable to punishment under the same law.
But they pleaded not guilty.
Justice Akintoye adjourned till May 25, 2018 for the commencement of trial.
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