A Federal High Court in Lagos today, fined Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, counsel to the suspected kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a. k. a Evans a sum of N20,000.
The Justice who gave the ruling, Justice Abdulazeez Anka while adjourning a fundamental human rights suit filed on behalf of Evans by Ogungbeje over alleged illegal detention has however rebuked Evan’s lawyer to desist from “practices unbecoming of a legal practitioner.”
However, The Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Police Command, the State Police Commissioner and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad have joined the respondents in the suit.
Recall Evans had sought a court’s order directing the respondents to immediately charge him to court in accordance with constitutional provisions, if there existed any case against him when in real sense, he had he had sought an order, forcing the respondents to immediately release him unconditionally in the absence of any charge.
Reports however said that the hearing which was scheduled today was adjourned as Ogungbeje did not show up in court.
A litigation officer from Ogungbeje’s law firm, Mr Stephen Abunike, told the court that his principal was “indisposed” and had written a letter seeking an adjournment. He added that he had attempted to serve a copy of the letter on the Police counsel in court, but he declined service.
In response, counsel to the Police, Mr Emmanuel Eze, stated that the he had only seen the letter in court, and that the letter was signed by one Saheed Sanni, a lawyer in Ogungbeje’s law firm.
Eze urged to court not to consider the excuse and consider Ogungbeje’s absence as an affront to the court. he added that his absence showed that the law firm was not serious.
In a short ruling, Justice Anka, awarded a punitive cost of N20,000 against Ogungbeje for what he described as unprofessional conduct. The judge however stated that Ogungbeje had wrote a letter to the court, but he did not send a copy of the letter to the counsel to the police. He however termed it is unprofessional.
The judge, who rebuked Ogungbeje for not carrying other parties along said:
“The court has noted the conduct of the counsel, who wrote to the court without copying other parties. “This is unprofessional and the court hereby warns the counsel to desist from such a conduct; a punitive cost of N20,000 is hereby awarded for such conduct.”
Anka adjourned the case until July 20 for hearing. In the suit marked, FHC/L/CS/1012/2017, Evans however argues that his continued detention by the respondents since June 10, 2017, without being charged to court or granted bail is an infringement on his fundamental human rights. He argued that the respondents ought to have charged him to court in accordance with the provisions of Sections 35 and 36 of the Constitution. It was further argued that the alleged offences committed by the applicant (Evans) are correspondingly intertwined with the constitutional safeguards as provided under Sections 35 and 36 of the Constitution.
In a 27-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by Evan’s father, Stephen Onwuamadike, he declared that the media trial and news caused by the respondent has incessantly continued to generate more reactions in both print and electronic media, yet his son hasn’t been given free hearing and trials before a court of law. he further affirmed that all his family members have been denied access to see Evans ever since he had been arrested, but journalists were granted free access to see him. For this reason, he is therefore, demanding a sum of N300 Million for damages from the respondents.