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Evans Kidnap kingpin to change plea to "not guilty" at next court sitting

Ogungbeje said Evans, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges before a Lagos High Court was coerced by the police to do so.

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Kidnap kingpin, Evans being led by the police play

Kidnap kingpin, Evans being led by the police

(Information NG)

Suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans will change his plea to "not guilty" at the next court sitting, his lawyer,  Olukoya Ogungbeje has said.

Ogungbeje said Evans, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges before a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Wednesday, August 30, was coerced by the police to do so.

He said the police threatened to kill him if he failed to plead guilty.

In a statement issued after the Wednesday proceedings, Ogungbeje said since June 10, 2017, when Evans was remanded, the police never allowed family members and lawyers to have access to him in custody.

He said Evan's guilty plea on Wednesday was of no effect he was not given the opportunity to be guided lawyers before the charges were read to him and other suspects.

ALSO READ: Police unmask female officer who helped Evans escape

The lawyer added that his client was only served with the charges in the open court on Wednesday and the judge also turned down the plea for an adjournment to afford his client time and facilities as guaranteed by the Constitution to confer with the defendant.

Ogungbeje said, "The information/charge sheet was served on us in open court hence, the need to confer with our client to enable us avail ourselves with the constitutional right of adequate time and facility to put up our defence.

"The court after turning down our plea for adjournment immediately ordered that the counts charges be read to him and others despite our plea for adjournment to enable us confer with our client in accordance with the law.

"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.

"This is definitely unconstitutional and we intend to challenge this unconstitutional procedure for hoodwinking, undue influence, brainwashing and coercion on an accused into entering a guilty plea  against his wish and free will.

"He pointedly told us that being informed now, he will change his police-motivated guilty plea to not guilty at the next adjourned date.

"It is settled Law that plea of guilty must be made voluntary and direct devoid of any influence, coercion and manipulation.

"In the meantime, after our brief conferring with our client in open court, he made it known to us that he will change his police motivated guilty plea to ‘not guilty’ at the next adjourned date.”

Ogungbeje insisted that he, as defence lawyer, had "a responsibility to assist the cause of justice in accordance with the law."

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