Olukoya Ogungbeje, lead counsel to Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, suspected kidnap kingpin better known as Evans, has withdrawn from his client’s trial.
In a statement he personally signed, Ogungbeje said he was withdrawing due to “personal reasons”.
Evans is being tried by the Lagos state government for alleged offences ranging from conspiracy to kidnapping and attempted murder.
Ogungbeje said his life had been under threat since he took up the case.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state categorically that we have fought a good fight this far despite repeated and sustained threats to my life and my defence lawyers,” he said in the statement issued Wednesday.
“I dare say we have no regrets whatsoever, having conducted the criminal charges involving our client this far.
“For the sake of history, we have been able to enrich the basic principles of our criminal jurisprudence, especially the principle premised on ‘an accused person being presumed innocent until the contrary is proved’ no matter the public opinion and criticism.”
He added that the defence team has also been able to “keep the prosecution on their toes in the art of forensic, proper and thorough investigation and prosecution of accused persons.”
On what looks like a reaction to criticisms trailing his representation of Evans in court, Ogungbeje said a barrister is “bound to accept a brief for any man who comes before the courts.”
“No matter how great a rascal the man may be, no matter how given to complaining, no matter how undeserving or unpopular his cause, the barrister must defend him to the end,” he added.
“He must accept the brief and do all he honourably can on behalf of his client.”
The lawyer came into limelight when he filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit at the federal high court in Lagos on his client’s behalf, asking the court to compel the police to release him.
He had subsequently filed another suit against the inspector general of police and three other parties, claiming N300 million as general and exemplary damages against the police for “illegal detention and unconstitutional media trial”.
But Evans dissociated himself from the suits.