Portions of two video recordings showing alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike alias Evans, confessing to committing crimes of kidnapping and armed robbery within and outside Lagos, were on Wednesday played at an Ikeja high court in Lagos.
The videos were played during the testimony of Idowu Haruna at the trial of Evans and Victor Aduba, his co-defendant, on four-counts of kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms.
During Haruna’s testimony, Titilayo Shitta-Bey, director of public prosecution (DPP), had sought to tender two compact discs (CD) containing the confessions as evidence.
She had also requested a portion of the videos should be played in court to prove its authenticity to the defence team.
The videos which were projected on the wall of the courtroom showed Evans wearing a red T-shirt, seated on a leather sofa in a room and confessing his crimes to Haruna.
He could be seen smiling and telling the policeman about his daytime and nighttime armed robberies of banks as well as his kidnapping escapades where ransom ranging from $250,000 to $1 million were received from his victims.
Before the video clips were played Haruna, a policeman with 14-years experience in the Nigerian police force, explained to the court how he came in contact with the defendants.
“I’m a member of the inspector-general of police, intelligence response team, I know the defendants from when they were arrested for the kidnap of one person on February 14, 2017.
“That victim was taken to their hideout in Igando, Lagos and kept there for a month till he escaped from the hideout. Through covert operations, we arrested Evans and during interrogations he mentioned Victor Aduba. The first defendant (Evans) gave us information about the people he had kidnapped in Lagos and in other states.
“He confessed that on June 28, 2014, at Saka St., Amuwo-Odofin in Lagos, he was armed with an Ak47 gun and he kidnapped Mr Sylvanus Ahamonu, taking him to their hideout in a danfo bus. After holding the victim for nine weeks, they contacted his family demanding two million dollars with the family agreeing to pay 420,000 dollars. The family paid the 420,000 dollars in instalments.
“After Sylvanus regained his freedom, he gave a statement to the police. His wife Mrs Chinyemere Ahamonu who negotiated his release and his brother Dominic Ahamonu who dropped off the ransom all volunteered statements.
“The first defendant (Evans) was cautioned in English language and his statement recorded by our video recorder which took records of the interview. He was taken to DSP Phillip a superior officer and his statement was recorded.”
The statements of Sylvanus, Chinyemere and Dominic were tendered in evidence in court by the DPP and the CD containing the confessions of Evans played in the courtroom.
Responding to the request by the DPP to admit the CDs into evidence, Olukoya Ogungbeje, Evans defence counsel, requested for time to study the recordings and compare the copy of the CD served on them with what was played in court.
“My Lord we will be requesting for time to call our technical experts to examine the CD played in court today as well as the certificate of identification served on us in open court,” he said.
During proceedings, Emmanuel Ochai, counsel to Aduba, had complained to the court about Kirikiri prison officials eavesdropping on conversations between the defence counsel and their clients.
“The defendants have been in custody since 2017, the prison officers have insisted on always listening to all our conversations regarding their trial,” he said.
“When we try to confer with them in court the prison officials frustrate us telling me that I have a particular number of minutes to discuss with my clients. The life of a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is on the line here.”
Responding to Ochai’s complaint, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, the judge, cautioned the prison wardens.
“You are not supposed to be overhearing when the lawyers are conferring with the defendants,” he said.
“Stand at a safe and reasonable distance so long as you can observe the defendants. Please allow justice to be done in this case.”
At the start of the trial, Ogungbeje had brought an application challenging the amended charge, arguing that the additional evidence was insufficient to sustain the charge.
Dismissing Ogungbeje’s application, Taiwo, in a ruling, said the application lacked merit.
The judge adjourned the case till April 23 and April 27 for further hearing.