Infamous kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans was arraigned alongside five other accomplices, at the Ikeja High Court, Lagos, on Wednesday, August 30, 2017.
This is what suspected kidnapper's "Guilty" plea means
In line with the Administration of Criminal Justice Laws of Lagos State, the court will record Evans' plea as "Not Guilty" and proceed with the trial as usual.
His arraignment came after a police-assisted “media tour” that proved unpopular with Nigerians, eventually leading to his disappearance from the public eye.
As widely reported, Evans chose to enter a plea of guilty to the two count charge of kidnapping and conspiracy brought against him.
A guilty plea in this case basically means that Evans is admitting his guilt before the court, but it does not mean that the proceedings against him will come to a close or that he will be sentenced immediately.
In Nigerian law, where a criminal charge is brought against the accused by the state, the allegations (also called charges or counts) are read out to him clearly and accurately.
The accused person, in this case, Evans, has many options available, including pleading innocent, claiming a defect in the allegations, keeping mum or pleading guilty.
However, Evans is charged with kidnapping, which is a capital offence. In Nigerian law, capital offences are punishable by life imprisonment or death.
The Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State (ACJL) 2011 regulates criminal proceedings (read; cases) in Lagos State's courts. Where a defendant pleads guilty to a capital offence, a plea of not guilty shall be recorded for him.
While Evans’ plea of guilty casts some prejudice on him in the public eye, the court will record and view it as a plea of not guilty.
What this means is that the case will continue to trial as usual. Because his life is involved, he still has to be tried and convicted before he is sentenced.
In the coming weeks, the state will present its case in court, backed with evidence and arguments that will prove why he should be convicted.
On the other hand, Evans’ lawyers will still have a chance to defend their client in court; a difficult task considering the amount of evidence against him and his implied admissions of guilt at various points during investigations.
In summary, the prosecution will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Evans is guilty of the offences he has been charged with, despite his plea of guilt.
In new developments, Evans' lawyer, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje has claimed that the police coerced his client to enter a guilty plea before the Ikeja High Court.
In a letter written in the name of his firm, Lawflex chambers, he wrote "After the purported guilty plea of our client and the court rose, we stressed to have brief discussion time with our client and he told us clearly that the police told him to plead guilty failure to which they would kill him"
"He pointedly told us that being informed now, he will change his police-motivated guilty plea to not guilty at the next adjourned date."
Coercion and undue influence to get a plea is a violation of court laws and rules. Come the next adjourned date, Evans' lawyers will face the process of changing his plea as prescribed by the ACJL.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Ikeja High Court has ordered that Evans be remanded at Kirikiri Maximum Prison, until the proper trial commences on October 19.
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