Mr Victor Okpara, counsel to alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (alias Evans), on Thursday said that the police hastily paraded the suspect without obtaining a statement from him.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Okpara made the claim at the resumed trial of Onwuamadike on Thursday before an Ikeja High Court.
Thursday’s proceedings involved two trials – a trial-within-trial for the attempted kidnapping of Chief Vincent Obianodo, the Chairman of the Young Shall Grow Motors, and trial for kidnap of a businessman, Mr Sylvanus Ahamonu.
In the Obianodo case,
Onwuamadike is being tried alongside Joseph Emeka, Chiemeka Arinze and Udeme Upong.
Cross-examining the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) Insp. Idowu Haruna, in the trial-within-trial of Onwuamadike and his co-defendants for the attempted kidnap of Obianodo, Okpara noted that he was arrested on June 10, 2017.
“He was paraded the next day as a kidnapper without first giving a formal police statement.
“His capture was celebrated nationwide, he was paraded on June 11, 2017, and you immediately concluded that you had arrested a notorious kidnapper before his statement was taken.
“The statement of the defendant was recorded for the first time on July 1, 2017. His statement was taken without his lawyer being present.
“I can also confront you with photographs alleging serious beating of the first defendant (Onwuamadike) while he was in your custody,” he said.
The IPO, in his response, admitted that Onwuamadike’s statement was not taken immediately he was arrested at his Magodo, Lagos, residence.
Haruna that he wrote Onwuamadike’s statement and read it aloud to him.
The IPO noted that the first defendant, in his statement, did not say that he would opt out of having a lawyer present.
Haruna also testified that that he never heard of the legal options which could have been available to him such as Legal Aid Council and Justice of the Peace.
“You claim to be a crack detective; in all the other cases, there were video recordings of his alleged confessions.
“I put it to you that there was a deliberate attempt not to video-record this interview,” Okpara said.
While being cross-examined by prosecution counsel, Mr Yusuf Sule, Haruna shed more light on why Onwuamadike’s statement was not immediately taken by police when he was apprehended.
“Immediately the first defendant was arrested, he gave numerous information on other gang members and his victims.
“It took us a lot of time to be able to investigate and get information on this case.
“We had to liaise with the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Festac. That is where he gave his statement,” Haruna said.
NAN reports that the defendants face a seven-count charge of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, attempt to kidnap and sales and transfer of firearms.
According to the prosecution, Onwuamadike and his three co-defendants committed the offences on Aug. 27, 2013, on Third Ave., Festac, Town Lagos.
Onwuamadike and his accomplices are alleged to have killed Mr Chijioke Ngozi and attempted to kill and kidnap Obianodo.
The prosecution also alleged that in 2008, Upong sold and transferred two AK47 rifles and 70 rounds of live ammunition to Onwuamadike.
In the second trial involving
Onwuamadike and Victor Aduba, a dismissed member of the Nigerian Army, Okpara also alleged that the police hastily concluded that Onwuamadike
collected a 420,000 dollars as ransom from Ahamonu based solely on the allegation of the complainant.
“He wasn’t arrested on June 28, 2014, on the day of the alleged incident but years later, and prior to the victim (Ahamonu) giving his statement, you had not had any contact with the victim.
“In Exhibit A (the statement), the victim talked about assassins and not kidnappers. He said they talked about killing him and not kidnapping him.
“The 420,000 dollars were paid in three tranches by Ahamonu’s brother, Dominic ($200,000), Ahamonu’s wife ($200,000) and one Onyebuchi ($20,000).
“Did you go through bank records to ascertain whether money was withdrawn, and the source of the alleged ransom?
“Did you also trace the phone numbers used to negotiate the alleged ransom?
“Did you do a fingerprint analysis of the guns recovered from their alleged hideout at Igando?,” Okpara asked.
Responding, Haruna testified that the allegation of $420,000 ransom being paid was based solely on Ahamonu’s statement to the police.
He also said that bank records were not traced during the investigation.
“We did not do a fingerprint analysis of the guns recovered from their hideout at Igando.
“For security reasons, I cannot reveal the numbers used to call during the incident.
“We did not match those numbers with those used to call the defendant due to issues with the service provider.
“The $420,000 ransom was paid in the dead of the night,” Haruna said.
While being cross-examined by Aduba’s counsel, Mr Emmanuel Ochai, Haruna explained the role of the dismissed soldier in the kidnap of Ahamonu.
“The second defendant (Aduba) did not negotiate ransom; he collected the ransom.
“After he was arrested, he was first taken to an army barracks for disciplinary action.
“Four AK47 and AK49 rifles were used for the operation,” Haruna said.
NAN reports that the duo faces a four-count charge of kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms.
They are accused of kidnapping
Mr Sylvanus Ahamonu on June 28, 2014, at Saka St., Amuwo-Odofin in Lagos.
They allegedly held him hostage for at least nine weeks and collected a ransom of 420,000 dollars from his family.
Both trials were adjourned by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo until Sept. 17, for continuation. (NAN)