Court Adjourns Evans’ N300m Fundamental Rights Suit To September 21

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OLUGBENGA SOYELE Lagos

Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court in Lagos  further adjourned fundamental rights enforcement suit application filed by Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans to September 21.

Justice Obiozor adjourned the suit after he was informed that by the counsel to the police that the Lagos State Government had arraigned Evans before the State High Court in Ikeja, last week Tuesday.

Evans had filed the suit against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris and three others to challenging his arrest and continue detention by the police.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, Justice Obiozor, who is a vacation, held that there was no urgency for the suit to be heard during vacation again.

The judge further held that the arraignment of Evans has mitigated against the urgency in the suit.

He therefore adjourned the case till September 21 for further action.

Evans had in the suit, through his lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, asked the court for an order directing the police to charge him to court immediately or release him on bail.

Ogungbeje argued that Evans’ detention since June 10, 2017 without being charged to court was a violation of his client’s fundamental rights enshrined in sections 35 (1) (c) (3) (4) (5) (a) (b) and 36 of the Constitution.

For his alleged unlawful detention without being charged to court, Evans wants the court to award N300m damages against the police in his favour.

On August 16, 2017, the judge had heard the application and fixed last week Tuesday to deliver a judgment but the first and second respondents, the Inspector General of Police and the Nigeria Police Force did not send a legal representative throughout the hearing.

However, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, the third and fourth respondents, were represented by lawyers who argued that their colleagues were not served the court process.

Other respondents in the suit are the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Commissioner of Police (COP) Lagos State and the Lagos State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

When the matter came up for hearing on August 29, David Igbodo, a lawyer, announced appearance for the first and second respondents, saying they did not receive any court process in Abuja.

Igbodo, a Commissioner of Police (Legal), said they had filed a motion before the judge making five applications, including an order seeking to set aside the ruling on August 16 as well as the adjournment for judgment without hearing his clients.

He also said the police was seeking an order to set aside the purported application and submission made by Henry Obiazi without authority, and an order granting leave to the first and second respondents to file their counter affidavits.

He said, “Parties have been served though the applicant, I was told, refused to accept service.

“The application is before your lordship, it’s our belief that this court is a court of justice,” Igbodo maintained.

In his response, Ogungbeje said he never received any application from the police, insisting that the business of the court for Tuesday was to deliver judgment and not to entertain fresh applications.

“It is our strong view to the learned counsel to the first and second respondents that his application is calculated to arrest the judgment of the court,” said Mr. Ogungbeje.

The lawyer also said he could not have refused service from the police because he was out of town.

In a short ruling Justice Anka held that he would not go ahead and read the judgment when there are pending applications before him.

“The question is, can I still go ahead when there are still motions before me and the fact that the applicant refused service?” The judge asked.

“I’ve read the case file, I’ve seen the processes attached inclusive of a court order.”

Evans and his co-accused were arraigned before the State High Court, Ikeja , on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping, on August 30.

When he was arraigned before Justice Akeem Oshodi he pleaded guilty to the two counts.

Apart from Evans, who others, Uche Amadi and Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu also pleaded guilty to the two count charge while the only female member of the gang, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, and Victor Chukwunonso Aduba pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The offences are contrary to and punishable under sections 411and 271 of the criminal Laws Cap. C17, Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015.