The lawyer representing Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (popularly known as Evans) has withdrawn his representation from all criminal charges against his client.
Olukoya Ogungbeje said his decision to withdraw as counsel to Evans were “for personal reasons.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state categorically that we have fought a good fight this far despite repeated and sustained threats to my life and my defence lawyers,” Mr Ogungbeje said in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES.
“I dare say we have no regrets whatsoever having conducted the criminal charges involving our client this far.”
Mr Onwuamadike is an alleged billionaire kidnapper who led gangs that abducted several Nigerians for years.
He reportedly made a fortune from ransom payments received to set his captives free. He was arrested in Lagos in 2017.
The lawyer, Mr Ogungbeje, declined to elaborate on the “personal reasons” when contacted by PREMIUM TIMES on Friday.
“For the sake of history, we have been able to enrich the basic principles of our criminal jurisprudence especially the principle premised on ‘An accused person being presumed innocent until the contrary is proved’ no matter the public opinion and criticism,” the statement continued.
“We have also been able to keep the prosecution on their toes in the art of forensic, proper and thorough investigation and prosecution of accused persons.”
Mr Ogungbeje further urged the media, prosecution, courts, and the public to note the dictum of Lord Denim in the case of Rondel vs Wosley where he opined that “An advocate is a minister of justice equally with the judge. He has a monopoly of audience in the Higher Courts.
“A barrister cannot pick and choose his clients. He is bound to accept a brief for any man who comes before the Courts. No matter how great a rascal the man may be. No matter how given to complaining. No matter how undeserving or unpopular his cause. The barrister must defend him to the end…
“He must accept the brief and do all he honourably can on behalf of his client.”
If he fails to immediately get a replacement, Mr Ogungbeje’s withdrawal from the criminal suits will be seen as a blow to Evans who broke down in court last month alleging maltreatment at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison where he is being held.
Evans next date in court is on June 26 when a Lagos Division of the Lagos State High Court will rule on an application brought by Mr Ogungbeje to quash the criminal charges against his client.
Mr Ogungbeje’s journey as counsel to the alleged billionaire kidnapper began in 2017 when he filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit on Evans’ behalf against the Nigeria Police Force seeking ₦300 million as damages.
Last October, the lawyer accused the police of extorting N50 million from his client and sexually assaulting Evans’ girlfriend.
The alleged kidnapper – alongside Joseph Emeka, Ugochukwu Nwachukwu, and Victor Aduba – is currently facing a two-count charge bordering on construction kidnap, kidnapping, and attempted murder before Judge Adedayo Akintoye of the Lagos Division of the Lagos State High Court.
Last March, a fresh trial of the suspect alongside Victor Aduba began before Oluwatoyin Taiwo, a judge of the Ikeja Special Offences Court in Lagos. The defendants are facing a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy, kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms.
In April, Mr Ogungbeje petitioned the Chief Judge of Lagos State seeking the transfer of the case away from Ms Taiwo over llegations of bias against his client.
Evans is also facing a similar charge before Hakeem Oshodi, a judge of the Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court.
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