The absence of convicted kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (a.k.a. Evans) on Wednesday stalled a suit filed against him by a kidnap victim, Chief Donatus Duru.
Duru had, in 2018, filed the suit before a Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square.
He is demanding refund of 223,000 pounds he allegedly paid as ransom to Evans, while in his custody.
Duru is also demanding N50 million from Evans as damages for his abduction.
On Wednesday, Evans’s counsel, Mr Amobi Nzelu, reminded the court that on the last adjourned date, June 29, it granted his application to become counsel to the defendant.
Nzelu said that he consequently wrote a letter to the court requesting that the Nigeria Correctional Service be directed to produce the defendant in court on Wednesday.
The counsel said that he was surprised that the defendant was not produced in court.
However, Duru’s counsel, Mr D. O. Obiora, said that the case was adjourned until Wednesday for defence to open its case.
Obiora said that a copy of the letter was not served on him.
“We are parties in this suit, we should be given a copy of the letter,” he said.
Evans’s counsel replied that it was an oversight.
“It was not done to hurt the claimant,” he submitted.
Justice Kayode Ogunjobi held that the letter was not acted upon by the court’s registrar, ruling that proceedings would not go on because the defendant was not in court.
He adjourned the case until Oct. 12 for defence to open its case.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on the last adjourned date, the judge granted the defendant’s application to change his counsel and to amend his statement of defence.
NAN also reports that the defendant was represented by a lawyer in March 2019 and was accorded an opportunity to defend himself but failed to do so.
When the claimant closed his case on March 3, 2022, the defendant sought the leave of court to defend himself.
According to Evans, he has been in prison custody since August 2017 and was not aware of the pendency of the action.
He said that he became aware of the suit in 2019 when he was already out of time to file defence.
Evans told the court that as soon as he became aware of the suit, he contracted a lawyer to defend him.
The defendant, however, said that, sometime in March, he was informed that the lawyer had ceased to represent him.