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Anambra billionaire kidnapper weeps, as court jails him for 21 years

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Our correspondent

The convicted billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, has been sentenced to 21 years imprisonment by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Special Offences Court.

Evans, with his co-defendant, Victor Aduba, was sent to jail on Monday for kidnapping one Sylvanus Hafia at about 5:30 pm on June 23, 2014, at Kara Street, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos State.

Evans was arrested at his residence at No. 3, Fred Shogboyede Street, Magodo, Lagos on June 10, 2017.

Here is a timeline of Onwuamadike’s trial:

June 10, 2017
Evans, who also deals in drugs, was arrested on Saturday, June 10, 2017 in one of his two mansions on Magodo Estate, Lagos, after seven years of high-profile abductions across the country, during which he collected millions of dollars in ransoms.

His arrest was made possible by useful statements made by his younger sister, police source said.

August 30, 2017
Evans and his accomplices, Uche Amadi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, Victor Aduba and one female, Ogechi Uchechukwu, were arraigned before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of an Ikeja High Court on two counts bordering on kidnapping and conspiracy.

While the male defendants were remanded at the then Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, the only female defendant, Uchechukwu, was remanded at the custody of the then Kirikiri Female Prison.

October 19, 2017
Evans and his co-defendants were re-arraigned following an amendment to the two charges, bordering on conspiracy and kidnapping, pressed against them by the state.

Although Evans and his co-defendants had earlier pleaded guilty to the charges when they were first arraigned on August 30, they changed their plea, denying the allegations upon their re-arraignment.

November 3, 2017
One Donatus Dunu’s brother, Anselem Dunu, testified as the first prosecution witness in the trial. Dunu said he raised N100 million and converted it to 223,000 euros as ransom for his brother’s release from Evans’ den.

The trial judge, Justice Oshodi, dismissed an application filed by Evans’s counsel, Olukoya Ogungbeje, seeking to quash the two-count charge brought against him by Lagos State Government.

November 17, 2017
Evans and his co-defendants decried their living conditions at the Kirikiri Prisons and alleged that the were not given the opportunity to have their bath.

“This is unfair, I have not been given food and change of clothes. I was not given the opportunity to bathe since Wednesday,” Evans said.

Justice Oshodi ordered a probe into the accusation. The judge also dismissed a bail application filed on behalf of the female defendant, Uchechukwu.

January 19, 2018
Proceeding stalled as a co-defendant in the case, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, had yet to secure legal representation. This prevented Anselem Dunu’s cross-examination from being held.

March 2, 2018
One of Evans co-defendants, Victor Aduba, an ex-soldier, was refused bail.

Justice Oshodi refused Victor Aduba, one of Evans’ co-defendants, bail having considered the gravity of the alleged offences and the possibility of interfering with trial.

In a separate ruling, Justice Oshodi foreclosed Nwachukwu’s chance to cross-examine Anselem as he was not willing to cross-examine him by himself since he had no legal representation.

March 16, 2018
The complainant in the case, Chief Executive Officer of Maydon Pharmaceuticals, Donatus Dunu, testified as the second prosecution witness.

He told the court that he was abducted at 7:30pm on Obokun Street, Ilupeju, Lagos, while heading home from work.

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria, Dunu said an initial ransom of $2 million was demanded from him, and his hands and feet were tied during his 88-day stay in Evans’ captivity.

He added that the ransom was changed to one million euros, owing to the then dollar rate, which was negotiated down to 500,000 euros. He further stated that his brother, Anselem, was able to raise 223,000 euros.

Dunu said he escaped from captivity while his captors were asleep, and alerted the authorities. He was cross-examined by Evans’s counsel.

May 11, 2018
The third prosecution witness and a Manager at Maydon Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Uchenna Okagwu, narrated how he paid 232,000 euros as ransom to Evans and his accomplices to secure the release of his boss. The money was dropped off at a location at Okota, Lagos

 

“As I walked to the back of my vehicle, I was three steps away, I was asked to drop the ransom, I did so and was told to move immediately after dropping the money.

“As I looked around, I only saw a vehicle parked at the beginning of the street with full lights on, the vehicle looked like an SUV,” he said.

September 11, 2018
Narrating how the defendants were arrested, the fourth prosecution witness, Idowu Haruna of the defunct Abba Kyari-led Intelligence Response Team, told the court that the defendants were arrested following Donatus Dunu’s escape from their den.

Evans’ new counsel, Chinonye Obiagwu, opposed the admissibility of the statements on the premise that they were obtained under duress.

The investigating police officer said the statements of the defendants were not obtained under duress but rather in a conducive environment.

Justice Oshodi, however, to order a trial-within-trial.

October 26, 2018
Taking the stand at the trial-within-trial, Evans claimed that his confessional statement to the police was not obtained voluntarily.

Evans absence stalls £223,000 suit
He claimed that policemen tortured him and made him to witness executions in a bid to get him to admit to the alleged crimes.

February 1, 2019
Justice Oshodi, admitting Evans’ June 11, 2017 confessional statement in evidence, ruled that there was no proof before the court that he (Evans) was tortured by the police to obtain the statement.

January 11, 2020
Haruna, closing his witness, said, “The ransoms collected by the first defendant were used for purchasing houses in Magodo Estate, Lagos, where he was arrested. He also bought a house on Emmanuel Keshi Street in Magodo Estate.

“He bought a house located in Accra, Ghana. The first defendant also bought landed property in Anambra State from the ransom,” he said.

The prosecution added that it would be closing its case against the defendants.

August 14, 2020
Oshodi ruled on a no-case submission filed by Evans’ co-defendants, Messrs Uchechukwu, Ifeanyi, Nwachukwu and Aduba, saying they had a case to answer owing to substantial evidence before the court. He ordered them to open their defence.

The judge also ordered Evans’ new counsel, Oyekunle Falabi, to write an undertaking that the law chambers would conclude the case.

The judge chided that Evans had developed a habit of engaging services of lawyers who “disappear halfway through trial”, noting that it was causing delays in the case.

Evans had been represented at different times by Olukoya Ogungbeje, Noel Brown, Chinonye Obiagwu and Olanrewaju Ajanaku since the beginning of the trial on August 30, 2017, all of whom withdrew from the case.

January 22, 2021
Evans opened his defence.

He denied his nickname and the allegations levelled against him.

He said, “My lord, my name is not Evans, and I don’t have a nickname. I’m a legitimate businessman who deals in haulage and ornaments.”

He also insisted that the police coerced him into admitting that he was a kidnapper, and accused the police of killing four persons in his presence in a bid to make him to confess to the crimes.

He also denied that he had met the other defendants before the police paraded them before the media at Area F, Police Command, Ikeja.

June 29, 2021
Evans’ sister, Ndubuisi Obiechina, testified as the second defence witness.

She told the court that her brother was tortured by the IRT operatives to confess to the crimes

Evans’ co-defendants, Uche Amadi and Ogechi Uchechukwu, a couple, also presented their defence.

Amadi denied that he had ever been to Lagos before his arrest, which, according to him, took place at Port Harcourt.

He also denied knowing Evans.

Uchechukwu, who married Amadi in 2004, however, faulted her husband’s testimony.

She said, “If anyone comes to this court and says that Mr Amadi has never been to Lagos except in 2017 when he was arrested, then that person must be lying.”

August 3, 2021
Two of Evans’s co-defendants, Ifeanyi and Aduba, both of whom were ex-soldiers of the Nigerian Army, denied being accomplices.

Ifeanyi said, “I have never taken part in any kidnap activities in my life. I have never attempted to kidnap anyone before or conspired with Evans to kidnap the victim (Dunu).”

Aduba, in his testimony, said he was coerced to sign a confessional statement in police custody after three men — Felix Chinemeren, Paul Samyan and Chukwuma Nwosu — who were initially paraded to the media as kidnappers, were extra-judicially killed by an IRT team.

Following the evidence of the two former soldiers, defence closed its case.

December 10, 2021
Justice Oshodi announced February 25, 2022 as judgment date, after listening to oral submissions of final written addresses by prosecution and defence counsel.

February 25, 2022
Justice Oshodi, in a three-hour judgment, found Evans, Messrs Amadi and Nwachukwu guilty of the two counts of conspiracy and kidnapping levelled against them by the Lagos State Government.

He said, “Despite the huge evidence stacked against them, they tried to lie their way out.

“In this respect, the first, second and fourth defendants are each hereby sentenced to life imprisonment. This is the sentence of the court.”

Other defendants – Ms Uchechukwu and the two ex-soldiers – Messrs Ifeanyi and Aduba – were discharged and acquitted. The judge held that there was no evidence linking them to the crimes.

September 19, 2022
Evans’ trial, which continued even after he was sentenced to life imprisonment by Justice Oshodi, reached another milestone on Monday as Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Special Offences Court sentenced him alongside his co-defendant, Victor Aduba, to 21 years imprisonment for kidnapping one Sylvanus Hafia

They were accused of conspiring and kidnapping Sylvanus Hafia at about 5:30pm on June 23, 2014, at Kara Street, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos and were alleged to have captured and detained Hafia and demanded a ransom of $2 million.

Our correspondent

Anambra billionaire kidnapper weeps, as court jails him for 21 years

The convicted billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, has been sentenced to 21 years imprisonment by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Special Offences Court.

Evans, with his co-defendant, Victor Aduba, was sent to jail on Monday for kidnapping one Sylvanus Hafia at about 5:30 pm on June 23, 2014, at Kara Street, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos State.

Evans was arrested at his residence at No. 3, Fred Shogboyede Street, Magodo, Lagos on June 10, 2017.

Here is a timeline of Onwuamadike’s trial:

June 10, 2017
Evans, who also deals in drugs, was arrested on Saturday, June 10, 2017 in one of his two mansions on Magodo Estate, Lagos, after seven years of high-profile abductions across the country, during which he collected millions of dollars in ransoms.

His arrest was made possible by useful statements made by his younger sister, police source said.

August 30, 2017
Evans and his accomplices, Uche Amadi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, Victor Aduba and one female, Ogechi Uchechukwu, were arraigned before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of an Ikeja High Court on two counts bordering on kidnapping and conspiracy.

While the male defendants were remanded at the then Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, the only female defendant, Uchechukwu, was remanded at the custody of the then Kirikiri Female Prison.

October 19, 2017
Evans and his co-defendants were re-arraigned following an amendment to the two charges, bordering on conspiracy and kidnapping, pressed against them by the state.

Although Evans and his co-defendants had earlier pleaded guilty to the charges when they were first arraigned on August 30, they changed their plea, denying the allegations upon their re-arraignment.

November 3, 2017
One Donatus Dunu’s brother, Anselem Dunu, testified as the first prosecution witness in the trial. Dunu said he raised N100 million and converted it to 223,000 euros as ransom for his brother’s release from Evans’ den.

The trial judge, Justice Oshodi, dismissed an application filed by Evans’s counsel, Olukoya Ogungbeje, seeking to quash the two-count charge brought against him by Lagos State Government.

November 17, 2017
Evans and his co-defendants decried their living conditions at the Kirikiri Prisons and alleged that the were not given the opportunity to have their bath.

“This is unfair, I have not been given food and change of clothes. I was not given the opportunity to bathe since Wednesday,” Evans said.

Justice Oshodi ordered a probe into the accusation. The judge also dismissed a bail application filed on behalf of the female defendant, Uchechukwu.

January 19, 2018
Proceeding stalled as a co-defendant in the case, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, had yet to secure legal representation. This prevented Anselem Dunu’s cross-examination from being held.

March 2, 2018
One of Evans co-defendants, Victor Aduba, an ex-soldier, was refused bail.

Justice Oshodi refused Victor Aduba, one of Evans’ co-defendants, bail having considered the gravity of the alleged offences and the possibility of interfering with trial.

In a separate ruling, Justice Oshodi foreclosed Nwachukwu’s chance to cross-examine Anselem as he was not willing to cross-examine him by himself since he had no legal representation.

March 16, 2018
The complainant in the case, Chief Executive Officer of Maydon Pharmaceuticals, Donatus Dunu, testified as the second prosecution witness.

He told the court that he was abducted at 7:30pm on Obokun Street, Ilupeju, Lagos, while heading home from work.

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria, Dunu said an initial ransom of $2 million was demanded from him, and his hands and feet were tied during his 88-day stay in Evans’ captivity.

He added that the ransom was changed to one million euros, owing to the then dollar rate, which was negotiated down to 500,000 euros. He further stated that his brother, Anselem, was able to raise 223,000 euros.

Dunu said he escaped from captivity while his captors were asleep, and alerted the authorities. He was cross-examined by Evans’s counsel.

May 11, 2018
The third prosecution witness and a Manager at Maydon Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Uchenna Okagwu, narrated how he paid 232,000 euros as ransom to Evans and his accomplices to secure the release of his boss. The money was dropped off at a location at Okota, Lagos

 

“As I walked to the back of my vehicle, I was three steps away, I was asked to drop the ransom, I did so and was told to move immediately after dropping the money.

“As I looked around, I only saw a vehicle parked at the beginning of the street with full lights on, the vehicle looked like an SUV,” he said.

September 11, 2018
Narrating how the defendants were arrested, the fourth prosecution witness, Idowu Haruna of the defunct Abba Kyari-led Intelligence Response Team, told the court that the defendants were arrested following Donatus Dunu’s escape from their den.

Evans’ new counsel, Chinonye Obiagwu, opposed the admissibility of the statements on the premise that they were obtained under duress.

The investigating police officer said the statements of the defendants were not obtained under duress but rather in a conducive environment.

Justice Oshodi, however, to order a trial-within-trial.

October 26, 2018
Taking the stand at the trial-within-trial, Evans claimed that his confessional statement to the police was not obtained voluntarily.

Evans absence stalls £223,000 suit
He claimed that policemen tortured him and made him to witness executions in a bid to get him to admit to the alleged crimes.

February 1, 2019
Justice Oshodi, admitting Evans’ June 11, 2017 confessional statement in evidence, ruled that there was no proof before the court that he (Evans) was tortured by the police to obtain the statement.

January 11, 2020
Haruna, closing his witness, said, “The ransoms collected by the first defendant were used for purchasing houses in Magodo Estate, Lagos, where he was arrested. He also bought a house on Emmanuel Keshi Street in Magodo Estate.

“He bought a house located in Accra, Ghana. The first defendant also bought landed property in Anambra State from the ransom,” he said.

The prosecution added that it would be closing its case against the defendants.

August 14, 2020
Oshodi ruled on a no-case submission filed by Evans’ co-defendants, Messrs Uchechukwu, Ifeanyi, Nwachukwu and Aduba, saying they had a case to answer owing to substantial evidence before the court. He ordered them to open their defence.

The judge also ordered Evans’ new counsel, Oyekunle Falabi, to write an undertaking that the law chambers would conclude the case.

The judge chided that Evans had developed a habit of engaging services of lawyers who “disappear halfway through trial”, noting that it was causing delays in the case.

Evans had been represented at different times by Olukoya Ogungbeje, Noel Brown, Chinonye Obiagwu and Olanrewaju Ajanaku since the beginning of the trial on August 30, 2017, all of whom withdrew from the case.

January 22, 2021
Evans opened his defence.

He denied his nickname and the allegations levelled against him.

He said, “My lord, my name is not Evans, and I don’t have a nickname. I’m a legitimate businessman who deals in haulage and ornaments.”

He also insisted that the police coerced him into admitting that he was a kidnapper, and accused the police of killing four persons in his presence in a bid to make him to confess to the crimes.

He also denied that he had met the other defendants before the police paraded them before the media at Area F, Police Command, Ikeja.

June 29, 2021
Evans’ sister, Ndubuisi Obiechina, testified as the second defence witness.

She told the court that her brother was tortured by the IRT operatives to confess to the crimes

Evans’ co-defendants, Uche Amadi and Ogechi Uchechukwu, a couple, also presented their defence.

Amadi denied that he had ever been to Lagos before his arrest, which, according to him, took place at Port Harcourt.

He also denied knowing Evans.

Uchechukwu, who married Amadi in 2004, however, faulted her husband’s testimony.

She said, “If anyone comes to this court and says that Mr Amadi has never been to Lagos except in 2017 when he was arrested, then that person must be lying.”

August 3, 2021
Two of Evans’s co-defendants, Ifeanyi and Aduba, both of whom were ex-soldiers of the Nigerian Army, denied being accomplices.

Ifeanyi said, “I have never taken part in any kidnap activities in my life. I have never attempted to kidnap anyone before or conspired with Evans to kidnap the victim (Dunu).”

Aduba, in his testimony, said he was coerced to sign a confessional statement in police custody after three men — Felix Chinemeren, Paul Samyan and Chukwuma Nwosu — who were initially paraded to the media as kidnappers, were extra-judicially killed by an IRT team.

Following the evidence of the two former soldiers, defence closed its case.

December 10, 2021
Justice Oshodi announced February 25, 2022 as judgment date, after listening to oral submissions of final written addresses by prosecution and defence counsel.

February 25, 2022
Justice Oshodi, in a three-hour judgment, found Evans, Messrs Amadi and Nwachukwu guilty of the two counts of conspiracy and kidnapping levelled against them by the Lagos State Government.

He said, “Despite the huge evidence stacked against them, they tried to lie their way out.

“In this respect, the first, second and fourth defendants are each hereby sentenced to life imprisonment. This is the sentence of the court.”

Other defendants – Ms Uchechukwu and the two ex-soldiers – Messrs Ifeanyi and Aduba – were discharged and acquitted. The judge held that there was no evidence linking them to the crimes.

September 19, 2022
Evans’ trial, which continued even after he was sentenced to life imprisonment by Justice Oshodi, reached another milestone on Monday as Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Special Offences Court sentenced him alongside his co-defendant, Victor Aduba, to 21 years imprisonment for kidnapping one Sylvanus Hafia

They were accused of conspiring and kidnapping Sylvanus Hafia at about 5:30pm on June 23, 2014, at Kara Street, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos and were alleged to have captured and detained Hafia and demanded a ransom of $2 million.

Ifeizu

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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