By Chinyere Omeire
Justice Adedayo Akintoye of an Igbosere High Court, Lagos, on Wednesday ordered the suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, a.k.a Evans to engage a counsel by May 17.
Akintoye gave the order due to the absence of Evans’ counsel, Mr Chino Obiagwu, SAN, for the third time in a row which again stalled the continuation of hearing in the on-going trial of the alleged kidnap kingpin.
Justice Akintoye said: “If your lawyers don’t want to appear, we cannot force them.
“You have three options, you can get another lawyer to represent you or the court can appoint one for you or you can defend yourself.
“This is last day I will give you to get a lawyer”.
Akintoye adjourned the case until May 17 for continuation of trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Evans trial was on Jan. 30 and March 1, stalled due to the absence of the defence counsel, adding that on March 22 the court did not sit.
Evans is currently facing charges, bordering on conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping and attempted murder.
In the first charge, Evans is standing trial alongside Joseph Emeka, Ugochukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba.
In the second charge, he is standing trial alongside Joseph Emeka, Linus Okpara and Victor Aduba.
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Evans’ counsel did not make any appearance.
NAN reports that no member of Evans’ legal team was present, adding that there was no letter to the court to explain the reason for the absence.
However, Evans himself told the court: “The last time we spoke, he told me that he will appear on the next sitting”.
However, the Prosecutor, Mr Y. G. Oshoala, 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.
He 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 defendant.
“This is the third time this matter is called and the first (Evans) defendant is not represented”.
The court, however, advised Evans to ensure that he got a legal representative before the next adjourned date.
NAN reports that on Jan. 16, during a trial within trial, Evans denied the confessional statement he made to the police after his arrest in 2017, saying it was made under duress.
Evans told the court that he signed the statement under duress to save him from being tortured to death.
Evans gave details of how members of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team allegedly tortured and killed several others, who were paraded alongside him in his presence.
However, Evans was cross-examined by the Lagos State Counsel to prove that his statement was not taken under duress.