Updated: Court gives Evans last chance to get lawyer by May 17

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An Igboseree High Court, Lagos Wednesday gave suspected billionaire kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike alias Evans, till May 17 to get a counsel to defend the criminal charges against him.

Justice Adedayo Akintoye told Evans, whose case has suffered three adjournments following his failure to secure legal representation, that he had only three options.

He could defend himself, get a new counsel or the court would appoint a legal aid counsel for him, Justice Adedayo said.

The judge gave the warning following the third consecutive absence of Evans’ counsel, Chino Obiagwu (SAN).

At the last sitting on March 1, Obiagwu did not make an appearance but sent a letter informing Justice Akintoye of his absence.

No member of Evans’ legal team, Including Olanrewaju Ajanaku, was present.
Acknowledging his letter, the judge adjourned till yesterday for address by counsel for trial within trial.

On March 29, an Ikeja High Court also gave Evans one more chance to get a lawyer to defend him in a similar case.

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo gave him till May 10, to do so, otherwise he could defend himself or the court would appoint a legal aid counsel for him.

Wednesday’s adjournment in Igbosere, the third consecutively, followed that of January 31, foisted on the court by the non-appearance of another defence counsel, Emmanuel Ochai, and that of March 1.

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 yesterday’s proceedings, no member of Evans’ legal team was present.

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There was also no letter to the court to explain their absence.

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Upon an enquiry from Justice Adedayo, Evans said: “The last time we spoke, he told me that on the next adjournment he will be in court.”

Judge: “So, he’s not here today?”

Evans: “Yes.”

Prosecuting counsel Yhaqub Oshoala prayed the court to invoke Section 233 (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) which empowers it to appoint a counsel for the defendant.

He said: “The provision is that where the defendant fails or is unable to secure a counsel, 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 defendant (Evans) is not represented”.

Acknowledging his submission, Justice Adedayo turned to Evans and asked: “What exactly is the position? I understand they don’t want to appear for you. Do you want the court to appoint another lawyer for you?”

Evans shook his head and said: “No, my lord.”

The judge advised him to ensure that he got a legal representative before the next adjourned date.

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, which is not advisable .

“Today is the last chance that I have given, otherwise I will do what I have said. After today, there will be no more adjournment.”

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The judge adjourned till May 17 for continuation of trial.

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