After a four-year trial, kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans, on Friday got life imprisonment for conspiring with two others to kidnap Mr Donatius Dunu, Chief Executive Officer, Maydon Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi of an Ikeja High Court, who passed the sentence, said Evans and two others did not show any remorse during the trial in spite of huge evidence against them.
The Lagos State Government had prosecuted Evans and five others before the court.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that in a three-hour judgment, Oshodi held that the state proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against Evans and two of his co-defendants – Uche Amadi and Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu.
The judge convicted the trio on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
He, however, discharged and acquitted the other co-defendants – Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, an ex-soldier; and Victor Aduba, also an ex-soldier.
Oshodi held that there was no evidence linking them to the crimes.
It has to be stated that none of the three defendants showed any remorse during the trial. Despite the huge evidence stacked against them, they tried to lie their way out. The court is also mindful of the harrowing experience of the victim of the kidnapping, to be restrained and blindfolded during the period of his captivity until his escape.
“A lesson must be taught. In this respect, the law is the law which must be upheld. Section 2(1) of the Kidnapping Prohibition Law of Lagos State, 2017 prescribes a punishment of life imprisonment. The court has no discretion.
“In this respect, the first, second and fourth defendants – Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike a.k.a Evans, Uche Amadi and Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu – are each hereby sentenced to life imprisonment. This is the sentence of the court,” he held.
Earlier, Oshodi dismissed an allegation made by Evans in his final written address to the effect that he was tortured by the police into confessing to the crimes, in contravention of Section 9(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
The judge said that two video tapes of Evans’ confession to the police, which were played in court, showed him smiling while admitting to the crimes.
He added that a close analysis of his physical appearance in the videos showed no evidence of torture.
Oshodi noted that during the trial, Evans claimed that on Feb. 14, 2017, the day Dunu was kidnapped, he was at home with his wife.
Without mincing words, the evidence of DW2 (Obiechina) is tainted. She decided to focus on the extrajudicial statement made by the first defendant despite the fact that the court had undertaken an investigation on the validity of the statement in a trial-within-trial,” he said.
Before the sentence was passed, counsel for Evans, Mr H. O. Ajibola, in his allocutus (plea for mercy), told the court that he believed that Evans had turned a new leaf.
“I pray my lord tempers justice with mercy; this is his first conviction,” he said.
Counsel for Amadi, Ms Evelyn Obogwu, said her client was a first-time offender.
“He has a son and aged parents who depend on him for livelihood. I urge my lord to be lenient,” she prayed.
Mr Olanrewaju Ajanaku, counsel for Nwachukwu, also pleaded for mercy for his client, saying that the father of three had become remorseful.
Lagos State Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey, in her response, prayed for a harsh sentence on the convicts to serve as a deterrent.
NAN reports that this is the first judgment delivered in the five kidnapping trials Evans is facing at the various High Courts of Lagos State.
Evans and his co-defendants were arraigned before Oshodi on August 31, 2017, on two counts of conspiracy and kidnapping.
According prosecution, Dunu was kidnapped by Evans and his other gang members on February 14, 2017, on Obokun Street, Ilupeju Road, Lagos State, and was shackled and blindfolded during his 88-day ordeal.
It said that the gang collected 223,000 euros as ransom from Dunu’s family for his release.