Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of a Lagos State Special Offenses Court, sitting in Ikeja, has sentenced Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike aka Evans and a former soldier, Victor Aduba, to 21 years imprisonment, without an option of fine, for the 2014 kidnap of a businessman, Sylvanus Ahamonu.They were also found to have collected a $420,000 ransom from his family.
The court held that the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the two defendants committed the offenses.
They were also convicted and sentenced to 5 years each on two other counts of conspiracy to commit the acts and for being in unlawful possession of firearms. The court held that the jail terms will run concurrently with no option of fine.
This is the second conviction for Evans after he was earlier sentenced to life by justice Hakeem Oshodi in February 2022 for another kidnapping offense.
Both men were arraigned in 2017 by the lagos state government on a four-count charge of kidnapping Mr Ahamonu and collecting 420,000 dollars as ransom from him.
The prosecution had presented four witnesses, including the victim, to testify in its case.
Both defendants testified in their defence and presented no witnesses.
Mr Ahamonu had testified in court how he was kidnapped by armed men dressed in army uniform, one of whom he identified as Evans and how he was freed after two months upon paying the ransom. The victim also told the court that he again identified Evans at the police station, upon his arrest, and that the defendant even apologized to him for the acts.
The judge held that the witness’ ability to recollect who he saw wasn’t discredited and that it was unlikely he could have forgotten the identity of his abductors within that interval.
In upholding Evans’ confessional statement while in police custody, The court dismissed his allegations of torture by the police and held that there were no bruises or marks on him during his video interview with the police.
The judge held that the interrogation done by a police sergeant, Julius Ekundayo was “skillfully extracted” as Evans was duly cautioned before the questioning and that he asked the officer to write down his statement for him which he then signed after it was read out to him. The police officer and his superior were also found to have countersigned the statement.
The court added that Evans revealed “all his escapades during the interview and mentioned the names of his victims and the ransoms paid. He spoke freely as if he was proud of his accomplishments.”
The court also held that there was no proof before it to buttress Evans claim that he was tortured under the watch of suspended Head of the Police Intelligence Response Team, DCP Abba Kyari
The second defendant (Mr Aduba) was also convicted after it was proved that he was a member of Evans’ kidnap gang and that his job as a serving soldier, was to give them free passage while on operations.
Upon their convictions, Counsel for the defendants, Amobi Nzelu and Adeola Folarin had asked the court for a lesser sentence. But, the court upheld the position of the prosecuting counsel, Yusuf Sule who had urged the court to impose the maximum 21-year sentence, as stipulated under section 269(3) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.
Justice Taiwo noted that the sentence would serve as a deterrent to the rampant cases of kidnapping in the society
Mr Ahamonou and his wife, Chimebere had on December 17, 2021, testified virtually about how Evans and his gang kidnapped him on June 23, 2014 on Kara Road off Osolo Way, Ajao Estate, Lagos.
The couple narrated how they sold properties, borrowed money, raised funds from family and well wishers to attempt to raise the initial 2million dollars ransom that was demanded by Evans.
Mr Sylvanus whose hands and legs were chained throughout his two months in captivity was only released when the family had given Evans the 420,000 dollars as ransom.