A Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square has fixed July 13 for convicted kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike popularly known as Evans, to open his defence in the suit filed by one of his victims, Chief Donatus Dunu.
Chief Donatus Dunu, the CEO of Maydon Pharmaceutical Company had in 2018 filed the suit demanding the return of the sum of £223,000 he paid as ransom while in the custody of the kidnap kingpin.
The claimant is also demanding the sum of N50 million as damages.
When the case was called on Wednesday, a new counsel, Mr Maxwell Chukwuemeka, announced his appearance for the defendant, Evans.
The lawyer told the court that he had filed two applications – a motion for change of counsel and a motion for amendment of the defendant’s statement of defence.
The claimant’s counsel, Mr DO Obiora, in his response to the court noted that the defendant has been changing counsel. He, however, did not oppose the applications.
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The counsel also reminded the court of its ruling delivered on May 23, granting leave for the defendant to file his statement of defence.
He said that the defendant had not filed the defence but was seeking the leave of the court to amend his defence.
Justice Kayode Ogunjobi granted both applications but complained that the matter has suffered several adjournments.
“The delay is hurting everybody and putting the state at expenses,”, he said.
“We have been here since 2018 till 2022, at the instance of the defendant. I awarded a cost of N2.5 million because the delay was unwarranted.
“If there is a further delay, I will award another cost because I don’t see why you have an application to amend your statement of defence and you didn’t come with the amended statement to file it”.
The court subsequently adjourned the case until July 13 for the defendant to open his defence.
On Feb 25, 2022, another Lagos High court had convicted Evans and two of his associates for conspiracy and kidnap of the businessman, Donatus Dunu.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi sentenced the trio to life imprisonment.
But before the determination of thy case, Mr Dunu had on May 16, 2018, filed the suit for the refund of the sum he paid as ransom to Evans and his gang.
The claimant served the defendant through the Comptroller General of the Kirikiri maximum correctional centre, Lagos.
The defendant was initially represented by a lawyer in March 2019 and was accorded every opportunity to defend the suit but failed to do so.
However, when the claimant closed his case on March 3, 2022, the defendant came back seeking leave of court to defend himself.
According to Evans, he has been in prison custody since August 2017 and was not aware of the pendency of the action.
He stated that he became aware of the suit in 2019 when he was already out of time to file his defence.
He said immediately he became aware of the suit, he contracted a lawyer to defend him.
The defendant also added that sometime in March, he was informed that his former lawyer had ceased to represent him and had not filed a statement of defence.