Get counsel or I appoint legal aid for you, judge orders Evans
The trial judge’s order followed the absence of the defence counsel, Mr. Olanrewaju Ajanaku, who had on three consecutive occasions avoided proceedings for the defendant.
Evans was charged alongside three of his alleged gang members: Joseph Ikenna Emeka, 29, Chiemeka Arinze, 39, Udeme Frank Upong, 43.
They were arraigned on a seven count charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to kidnap and selling of firearms by the state government.
At the last proceedings, his counsel (Ajanaku) did not appear in court. He had earlier informed the court through a letter that Evans’ family is yet to perfect their brief, in terms of financial commitment.
However, since 2017 when Evans was brought to court, he had so far engaged the legal services of three lawyers: Olukoya Ogungbeje, Mr. Neol Brown and recently, Mr Ajanaku.
Ogungbeje discontinued on the claim that his life was under threat, while Brown abandoned him over unknown reasons.
However, continued absence of counsel to represent him prompted the court to order Evans to defend himself or seek the representation of a legal aid.
Earlier, when the matter was called, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Adebayo Haroun prayed the court to invoke Sections 233 (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), which empowers the court to appoint a counsel for the defendant.
According to him, where the defendant fails to secure a legal representation, the court has the discretion to order the legal aid counsel to provide a representation for the defendant.
“This is the third adjournment taken on the instance of the 1st defendant. So we urge the Lordship to invoke section 233 of the ACJL if the defendant fails to provide a counsel on the next adjournment,” Haroun said.
Haroun also told the court that his witness, a police officer, inspector Idowu Haruna, attached to the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team, was present to continue his evidence before the court.
The judge therefore ordered Evans to defend himself or seek a new counsel. “I have told you (referring to Evans) the options; defend yourself, get a new counsel or I’ll appoint a legal aid counsel for you.
“This case is not just for you, there are other defendants involved. Therefore, the liberty of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th defendants, who also demand justice, is also at stake. And justice delayed is justice denied.
“On the circumstances, I’ll adjourn this matter till May 10 and the 1st defendant must provide a counsel. However, in the absence of the Counsel for the 1st defendant, on the next adjourned date, this court will invoke Section 233 (3) of the ACJL and order the representation of the legal aid counsel for him,” the judge ruled.
The police officer, in his testimony told court that that Evans and his gang members shot the Young Shall Grow Motors chairman (YSG), Chief Obianuju Vincent and killed two of his escorts.
He said: “The incident occurred on August 27, 2013 at Third Avenue Festac Town when the YSG chairman was returning from a game house with his convoy and was attacked by heavily armed men led by Evans.
“During the attack, the YSG chairman was shot on his right arm, while his driver, one Mr. Peter Nweke was shot dead. One of his escorts, Chijoke Ngozi (female) was also shot dead. A gun duel between the chairman’s police escorts and the gang, three of kidnappers were shot dead by Inspector Solomon Igwe, while the rest fled from the scene.”
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