Evans’ N200 million Lawsuit Against the Police is Dismissed by the Court of Appeals.
NaijaNews reports that the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal brought by accused kidnapper Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans, challenging the seizure of his 25 vehicles by Nigerian authorities.
This online news gathered that when the subject came up on Thursday, three judges of the court dismissed Evans’ appeal for lack of merit.
Justice Joseph Ikyegh read the lead judgment, which was backed up by Justice Abubakar Umar and Justice Onyekachi Otisi from the panel.
He claimed that the police were able to recover the vehicles because of the search order granted and executed in accordance with Section 144 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of Nigeria, 2015.
The judge also ruled that Section 153 of Nigeria’s Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 allows police to keep proceeds of crime until the case is resolved.
These sections, he said, were in keeping with Section 44(1)(k) of the Nigerian Constitution (as amended), which allows for the temporary seizure of property for the purposes of investigation or restitution.
Because the trial was still ongoing, Justice Ikyegh ruled that Evans’ counsel’s use of the phrase “confiscate” was inappropriate in this case.
As a result, he supported the ruling of Federal High Court Justice Hadiza Rabiu-Shagari and dismissed Evans’ appeal for lack of substance.
At the Federal High Court, Evans had accused the Inspector-General of Police and four others of unlawfully seizing his 25 trucks and converting same to their own.
The other four respondents are the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Inspector-General of Police Response Team (IRT), Lagos State Commissioner of Police, and Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Through his counsel, Olukoya Ogungbeje, Evans alleged that the said trucks were seized from him without a court order, as the police forcefully confiscated the trucks from him since June 15, 2017.
He asked the court to award N200 million as general and exemplary damages against the police for the alleged violation of his rights under Sections 36, 43, and 44 of the 1999 Constitution.
But the police, through their counsel, Emmanuel Eze, asked the court to dismiss the suit as the trucks were proceeds of crime and exhibits.
In a counter-affidavit put before the court, Inspector Haruna Idowu said the suspect acquired 11 trucks with proceeds of crime, adding that 10 of them were recovered by the police.
He added that the trucks were listed as exhibits in the criminal charges filed against Evans at the Lagos State High Court.
“The applicant is the notorious and most dreaded armed robber and kidnapper known as Evans, who defiled police arrest for over 10 years and who had terrorized many states of Nigeria with his various gang members,” the policeman told the court.
“The applicant has no other source of livelihood except armed robbery and kidnapping, as so many arms and ammunition were recovered from the applicant during his arrest. The applicant had purchased various properties with proceeds of armed robbery and kidnapping.
“He purchased 11 trucks with proceeds of crime. The police recovered 10 in Lagos while they were able to tow the remaining one from Anambra State to Lagos due to the fact that the applicant’s brother-in-law, Mr. Okwuchukwu Obiechina, and his wife had tampered with the brain box of the truck in a bid to pervert the course of justice.”
In a judgment delivered on April 19, 2019, Justice Rabiu-Shagari of the Federal High court dismissed Evans’ suit for lacking in merit.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, Evans through his lawyer, Ogungbeje, approached the appeal court.
But the police through its counsel, Mr. Eze Esq, also filed a counter to the appeal and urged the court to dismiss the appeal.