The Lagos State Government Thursday filed an application seeking to present Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) as a witness in its trial of the suspected billionaire-kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike alias Evans at an Igbosere High Court, Lagos.
Prosecution counsel, Mr. Y. G Oshoala, told Justice Adedayo Akintoye that Evans made a claim concerning Falana while testifying in a trial-within-trial which required clarification by the lawyer-activist.
A trial-within-trial is a mini trial conducted to find out, among others, if a defendant in a criminal matter made his confessional statement voluntarily or otherwise.
Oshoala’s application followed the resumption of proceedings in the fourth and fifth in a series of kidnap, murder and attempted murder charges brought against him by the Lagos State Government.
But only two charges are before Justice Akintoye. Three others are before Justices Hakeem Oshodi and Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja High Court.
In the first charge before Justice Taiwo, Evans and three others – Joseph Emeka, Ugochukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba – pleaded not guilty to a five-count charge of conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping and attempted murder.
In the second charge, Evans is being tried alongside Joseph Emeka, Linus Okpara and Victor Aduba.
Oshoala made the application during trial on the second charge.
He told Justice Akintoye that during the trial within trial on January 16, Evans claimed that after his arrest in 2017, the police obtained a confessional statement from him under duress.
He said Evans alleged that Falana visited the police station where he was being tortured, but a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) hid him in a toilet until the lawyer left.
The prosecutor noted that he needed to call the SAN as a witness “in the interest of justice.”
But Evans’ counsel Mr. R. B. Ekeh said he had yet to respond to the application, adding that other defendants’ counsel said they were not served with the application. Countering him, Oshoala explained that “the issue came up during trial within trial of the first defendant (Evans); it therefore does not concern the other defendants.”
But Justice Akintoye upheld Ekeh’s argument and ordered that all the defendants be served, “those concerned will reply”.
Following this, the third defendant’s counsel, Mr. S. E. Okeke, holding the brief of Mr J. C. Jiakponna, told the court that he had a bail application.
The third defendant is Mr. Linus Opara.
Okeke informed the court that he had served the Medical Director of Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, an order requiring the director to issue a medical report on Opara’s state of health.
Justice Akintoye made the order on May 23 after Opara claimed that he had a failed operation in prison which might require treatment outside the prison.
The prisons “have not reacted to it (the order). We will move our bail application after the prisons have reacted to the court’s order,” Okeke said.
Justice Akintoye adjourned further proceedings till September 18.