The trial of alleged kidnapping kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans, and five others, opened on Friday before the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, with the prosecution calling its first witness.
The witness, Mr. Anselem Dunu, is the elder brother of the Chief Executive Officer of Maydon Pharmaceutical Limited, Donatus Dunu, who was kidnapped sometime in February this year.
Anselem , who mounted the witness box at about 3.45pm on Friday, narrated to the court how his younger brother was kidnapped and was not released until the family had parted with N100m.
The elderly man said the N100m was changed to €223,000, which was the currency that the kidnappers demanded.
When the trial opened, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bay, who led the state prosecution team, asked Anselem if he recognised the defendants in the dock.
The witness said he recognised the fourth defendant, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, whom he had always known, and then Evans, whom he met later during an investigation by the police.
Apart from Evans and Nwachukwu, the other defendants are Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi and Victor Aduba.
They were arraigned on two counts of conspiracy and kidnapping before Justice Hakeem Oshodi on August 30.
They pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution opened its case on Friday after the court dismissed the preliminary objections filed by Evans, Amadi and Ifeanyi challenging the competence of the charges.
The judge, in three separate rulings, described the defendants’ objections as misconceived and dismissed them.
In his testimony, the first prosecution witness, Anselem, gave a blow-by-blow account of the harrowing experience that the family went through when Donatus was kidnapped and how they struggled to raise N100m to secure his release.
He said after the kidnapping, the hoodlums did not make contact with the family until about two weeks after, when he said a call, from a hidden number, came through on his mobile phone.
Anselem said on picking the call, it was Donatus’ agitated voice that he heard, pleading that the family should immediately go and withdraw all the funds in his bank account and deliver same to the kidnappers, to prevent them from taking his life.
Anselem said the kidnappers insisted on a ransom of €1m, but the family could only raise N100m, which was converted to €223,000 and delivered to them.
He said a young man, Uchenna Okafor, took the money that was packaged in cellophane bags in a Honda car and headed towards Oshodi at about 7.45pm on the agreed date as instructed by the kidnappers.
Anselem said Okafor did not return until about 11 pm on the said date, adding that it was not until about two weeks after then that he got the news of Donatus’ release.
He said on seeing Donatus, the victim “looked terribly emaciated; he had not shaved for a long time and he looked just like the ‘early man.’”
Justice Oshodi adjourned till November 17 for Anselem’s cross-examination by the defence.
Meanwhile, the court entertained an application, seeking the release of the third defendant on bail on health grounds and adjourned till November 17 for the ruling.
Evans’ lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, told the court that he had also filed an application for Evans to be released on bail, but the judge did not hear it.
Earlier, the DPP had described Evans’s application for bail and accelerated hearing, filed along with an application to quash the charges as “conflicting, confusing and an abuse of court processes.”