A Lagos state division of the Court of Appeal on Thursday August 12, dismissed an appeal filed by suspected kidnapper Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans, against the judgment of Justice Hadizat Rabiu-Shagari of the Federal High Court, Lagos over his seized 25 trucks by the Nigeria Police.
Respondents in the case filed by Evans’ lawyer, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, are the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Inspector-General of Police Response Team (IRT), Lagos State Commissioner of Police and Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Evans in the lawsuit accused the Inspector-General of Police and four others of unlawfully seizing his 25 trucks without court order on June 15, 2017, and converting them to their own.
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.
Though Justice Rabiu-Shagari had on April 19, 2019, dismissed Evans’ suit for lacking in merit, he approached the Appeal Court in an appeal numbered CA/L/1105/2018.
However the police through its counsel, Emmanuel Eze, attached to the State CID, Panti, Yaba, Lagos, asked the court to dismiss the suit as the suspected kidnapper procured 11 trucks through proceeds of crime, of which 10 were were recovered as exhibits.
The police in a counter-affidavit deposed to, by Inspector Haruna Idowu, also noted 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 terrorised many states of Nigeria with his various gang members. 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 not 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.”
Justice Joseph Ikyegh who read the lead judgment in the appeal which was supported by other members of the panel Justice Abubakar Umar and Justice Onyekachi Otisi, held that the search warrant issued and executed in line with Section 144 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of Nigeria, 2015 empowered the police to recover the trucks.
Ikeygh added that Section 153 of the Administration of Criminal Justice of Nigeria 2015, permits the police to retain proceeds of crime until the case is disposed of.