Chukwudumem Onwuamadike, an alleged kidnapper better known as Evans, has accused officials of the Nigeria Prisons Service of treating him inhumanely.
Evans, who was at the Lagos State High court, where he was arraigned on two fresh charges of kidnapping, on Monday, had earlier refused to come down from the prison van.
He was, however, prevailed upon by warders acting on the orders of Justice Adedayo Akintoye to bring him out of the van. As he appeared before the judge, Evans, dressed in a pair of shorts and a green T-shirt, signaled to him that he wanted to say something.
“I have an explanation to make," he said in handcuffs "Since I have been in the maximum prison, they have been maltreating me; no visit, they don’t feed me well, I have eye problem and I cannot see afar.”
Refuting his claim, one of the prison officials said: “We have been treating him very well; he is well-fed and people have been visiting him.
“A doctor has been checking him; the doctor came to check him yesterday (Sunday) and even this morning before coming to court... because he was saying he can’t be in court, that he is not feeling fine.
“But when the doctor checked him yesterday (Sunday) and this morning, the doctor said he was healthy and that he saw no reason why he shouldn’t be in court."
According to Evans, the prison official’s claim that a doctor saw him was not true but rather he was seen by a nurse.
However, Ogedi Ogbu, counsel to Joseph Emeka, the second defendant, revealed to the court that his client had also made similar grievances.
Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, the Lagos State Director of Prosecutions, urged the court not to fall for the gimmicks of Evans.
“That was the same thing he said before an Ikeja High Court; when we wrote the prisons, they wrote us back that he was being taken care of like every other inmate,” Shitta-Bey said.
However, Justice Akintoye ordered that the Prison officials treat Evans and his co-defendants same the way they treat other inmates.
The judge also yielded to the request of Evans’ lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, to stand down the case.
Immediately the Judge left the courtroom, Evans began to cry, saying: "What have I done to you people? They have been beating me; no good food; I have been locked up in one place since August 30 last year; why are they taking my case personally? Let me face my trial alive, why do you people want to kill me."
The case has however been adjourned to May 25, 2018.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, a Lagos State High Curt threw out Evans' application seeking the release of his Mack trucks confiscated by the Nigeria Police Force.
The Police had claimed the trucks were purchased with proceeds of unlawful activities, adding that they were exhibits the police intended to use in prosecuting Evans for armed robbery and kidnapping.
“The trucks recovered are proceeds of crime which are preserved and kept as exhibits to be tendered in the ongoing criminal prosecution of the application at the High Court of Lagos State," the police had argued before Justice Hadizat Shagari, the presiding judge.
Evans’ lawyer, Ogungbeje, however, contended that the trucks were seized without a court order, saying the seizure was a violation of Evans' right under sections 36, 43, and 44 of the 1999 Constitution.
He asked the court to award N200 million as general and exemplary damages against the police for violating his client’s rights.
Ruling on the case, Justice Shagari aligned with the position of the police and consequently dismissed Evan’s application as filed by his lawyer.
Justice Abdulazeez Anka had also dismissed a similar application filed by Mr. Ogungbeje on behalf of Evans, demanding N300 million damages for wrongful detention by the police.
The judge reasoned that the decision of the police to detain him from June 10, till June 22, 2017, was reasonable because there was an order acquired to that effect.
Evans was arraigned alongside Joseph Emeka, Linus Okpara and Victor Aduba on charges bordering on “conspiracy and unlawful capture”.
The state alleged in the charges that the defendants conspired with some persons still at large to “unlawfully capture one Uche Okorafor on the 21st of November 2014, at Festac Town, Lagos; and demanded a random of $2m".
The DPP said the accused acted contrary to sections 409 and 269 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2011, adding that they were liable to punishment under the same law.
But they pleaded not guilty.
Justice Akintoye adjourned till May 25, 2018 for commencement of trial.