The Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) has ordered billionaire kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike alias Evans, to refund the sum of 233,000 Euros ransom he obtained from one of his victims, Chief Donatus Dunu.
Justice Olukayode Ogunjobi also ordered the convicted kidnapper to pay N50m as general damages in favour of the claimant.
Evans abducted Duru, a pharmacist, on February 14, 2017 for ransom and held him, hostage.
Duru subsequently escaped from captivity, but not before Evans demanded and obtained €233,000 from his captive.
Consequently, the Claimant, who is the CEO of Maydon Pharmaceutical Company, filed Suit No: LD/5243GCM/2018 demanding the return of the €223,000 and N50m as damages.
In his testimony before the court, the Claimant narrated that Evans ordered him to instruct his brothers, Anselm Dunu and Innocent Dunu to pay the ransom.
Duru testified that despite Evans receiving the €233,000 he refused to release him, adding that he escaped by himself.
Anselm corroborated him in his witness statement on oath sworn to on May 16, 2022.
His evidence was that a day after the kidnap, he spoke with Duru on the phone who instructed him to pay his abductors N100 million as ransom for his release.
Anselm stated that the abductors later demanded £ 1 million. He stated that his relation, one Uchenna Okagwu delivered the 233,000 Euros to the abductors.
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However, in his defense, Evans contended that the strength of the Claimant’s case was predicated majorly upon criminal trial against him and others in Suit No. 1D/5970C/2017.
The defendant also submitted that the only evidence before the court as to the payment of 233,000 Euros and to whom if any it was paid to was the evidence of Okagwu who allegedly delivered the money to the abductors.
He added that in the criminal trial in Suit No. 1D/5970C/2017, Okagwu testified that he dropped the said sum on the ground and fled and that he did not see anybody or delivered the money to anyone.
He argued that the evidence of Okagwu who delivered the said ransom to the abductors which was the only direct evidence must pass the test of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Evans submitted that the judgment delivered by Justice O.H. Oshodi on February 25, 2022 is now subject of an Appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division.
But dismissing his reasoning, Justice Ogunjobi found that the Defendant, among others, gave inconsistent evidence.
The Judge stated that having watched Evans’ demeanor while giving evidence in the witness box, he came to the conclusion that the defendant was not a witness of truth, and his evidence could not be trusted.
Justice Ogunjobi held: “It is settled law that no witness who gives materially inconsistent evidence on oath is entitled to the honour of being accorded any credibility and such does not deserve to be treated as a truthful witness.
“Besides adducing conflicting pieces of evidence on oath, I have watched the demeanor of the Defendant in the witness box when giving evidence and came to the conclusion that the Defendant is not a witness of truth.
“I do not believe his evidence. I accept the unchallenged and uncontroverted evidence of the Claimant and his witnesses. The evidence support the reliefs sought by the Claimant.
“Consequently, the Claimant is entitled to be paid or repaid and or recover from the Defendant, the sum of Euros 233,000 ransom coercively paid by the Claimant to Defendant when the Defendant kidnapped the Claimant in the year 2017 and held the Claimant hostage for months.
“The sum of N50million is awarded as general damages in favour of the Claimant against the Defendant.
“Post-judgment interest is awarded on the said sum of Euros 233,000 at the rate of 10% per annum from judgment i.e. 14th of February, 2023 until final liquidation. The adjudged said sum of Euros 233,000 and N50million is hereby ordered to be paid or recovered from the Assets of the Defendant. This is the judgment of the Court.”
The court however refused the claim for the pre-judgment interest of 40 percent per annum on the €233,000.