Two Compact Discs (CDs) showing video recordings of suspected billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (aka Evans)’s confessions were played yesterday at an Ikeja Special Offences Court.
The video recordings beamed on the wall of the court room before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo showed Evans confessing to kidnapping and armed robberies within and outside Lagos State.
The clips from the video were played while the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Titi Shitta-Bey, was leading a witness, Inspector Idowu Haruna, in evidence in-chief.
Evans is standing trial with co-defendant, Victor Aduba, on four-counts of kidnapping of Sylvanus Ahanonu Afia and for unlawful possession of firearms.
Ms Shitta-Bey had requested the court to tender the two CDs containing the confessions of Evans in the matter.
She had also requested that a portion of the videos be played to prove its authenticity to the defence team.
In the video, Evans wears a red T-shirt, sits on a leather settee in a room and confesses his crimes to Haruna.
He is giving details of his family background, how he ran away from home, went into armed robbery and later kidnapping. Evans is occasionally smiling as he narrates his escapades in bank robberies and kidnapping. He says the ransom collected ranged from $250,000 to $1 million, depending on his victim.
Haruna, a policeman with 14 years’ experience in the police, told the court how he came in contact with the defendants while serving as a member of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team.
He said the defendants were arrested for the kidnap of one person in February 14, last year.
“That victim was taken to their hideout in Igando, a Lagos suburb, and kept there for a month till he escaped.
“Through covert operations, we arrested Evans and, during interrogations, he mentioned Victor Aduba,” Haruna said.
He said Evans, during interrogation, gave the police the names and information about the people he had kidnapped in Lagos and in other states.
“He (Evans) confessed that on June 28, 2014, at Saka Street in Amuwo-Odofin in Lagos, he was armed with a AK-47 gun and kidnapped Mr Sylvanus Ahanonu and took him to their hideout in a Danfo bus.
“After holding the victim for nine weeks, the abductors contacted his family, demanding $2 million. They negotiated with his family and they agreed to pay $420,000,” he said.
Haruna said the money was paid by instalments.
The policeman added that after Sylvanus regained his freedom, he gave a statement to the police. His (Sylvanus) wife, Chinyemere, who negotiated his release, and his brother, Dominic, who dropped off the ransom, all volunteered statements.
“Evans was cautioned in English language and his statement recorded by our video recorder, which took records of the interview. “He was taken to DSP Phillip, a superior officer, and his statement was recorded, Haruna said.
The statements of Sylvanus, Chinyemere and Dominic were tendered in evidence by the DPP and the CDs containing the confessions of Evans were played in the courtroom.
The DPP requested the court to admit the CDs and a certificate on the recordings in evidence.
But Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, Evans’ defence counsel, requested for time to study the recordings and compare the copy of the CDs served on them with what was played in court.
He said the defence team would also need time to study the certificate, which he said was served on them in the court.
Ogungbeje said: “My Lord, we will be requesting for time to call our technical experts to examine the CDs played in court today as well as the certificate of identification served on us in open court.”
Also, during proceedings, Mr Emmanuel Ochai, counsel to Aduba, complained about how Kirikiri Prisons officials eavesdropped on the conversations between the defence counsel and their clients.
Replying Ochai’s complaint, Justice Taiwo cautioned the prison wardens.
He said: “You are not supposed to be overhearing when the lawyers are conferring with the defendants. Stand at a safe and reasonable distance, so long as you can observe the defendants.
“Please, allow justice to be done in this case.”
Ogungbeje had brought an application challenging the amended charge against the defendants.
According to him, the additional evidence was overreaching and insufficient to sustain the charge. Dismissing Ogungbeje’s application, Justice Taiwo said the application lacked merit.
She adjourned the matter till April 23 for continuation.