Justice Olukayode Ogunjobi of the Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, has ordered kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans, to refund the sum of €233,000 ransom he coercively collected from one of his victims, Chief Donatus Dunu.
Justice Ogunjobi also ordered Evans who had been convicted by two Judges for kidnapping, to pay N50 million as general damages to the victim.
Dunu (claimant) had instituted the suit on May 16, 2018 to recover the ransom he paid the convict after he was abducted on February 14, 2017, and held hostage, before he escaped from captivity.
Upon his escape he alleged that the defendant collected the sum of €233,000 as ransom prior to his escape from abduction.
Consequently, the claimant, who is the CEO of Maydon Pharmaceutical Company filed Suit No: LD/5243GCM/2018 demanding the return of the sum of £223,000 he paid as ransom while in the custody of the kidnap kingpin.
The claimant also demanded the sum of N50 million as damages.
In his testimony before the court, the claimant, a pharmacist, said that he was abducted on 14th February, 2017, for ransom and held hostage, before he escaped from captivity.
Upon his escape, he alleged that the Defendant collected the sum of €233,000 as ransom prior to his escape from abduction.
The claimant added that the defendant also asked him to instruct his brothers, Anslem Dunu and Innocent Dunu to pay the ransom.
He stated that the sum of €233,000 was paid but the Defendant refused to release him. He eventually escaped from captivity.
He was not cross-examined despite several adjournments for cross-examination.
Also, the claimant’s brother, Anslem Dunu gave evidence on behalf of the claim and adopted his witness statement on oath sworn to on 16th May, 2022.
His evidence is that on 14th February, 2017, his brother, one Innocent Dunu informed him that the claimant was abducted.
The next day he spoke with the claimant on phone who instructed him to pay his abductors N100 million as ransom for his release.
He stated that the abductors later demanded £1million. His relation, one Uchenna Okagwu delivered €233,000 to the abductors. He was not cross-examined.
However, in his defence, the defendant contended that the strength of the claimant’s case is 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 and to whom if any it was paid to was the evidence of Uchenna Okagwu who allegedly delivered the money to the abductors.
He added that in the criminal trial in Suit No. 1D/5970C/2017, Uchenna 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 Uchenna Okagwu who delivered the said ransom to the abductors which is the only direct evidence must pass the test of proof beyond reasonable doubt.
The defendant submitted the judgment delivered by Justice O.H. Oshodi on the 25th day of February, 2022 is now subject of an Appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos division.
In his judgment, Justice Ogunjobi held that the Defendant gave inconsistent evidence and cannot be rewarded as a truthful witness.
The judge stated that having watched the demeanour of the Defendant in the witness box while giving evidence, he came to the conclusion that the Defendant is not a witness of truth, and his evidence cannot 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 with any credibility and as such does not deserve to be treated as a truthful witness.
“Aside from adducing conflicting pieces of evidence on oath, I have watched the demeanour 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 supports 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 €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 N50,000,000 is awarded as general damages in favour of the Claimant against the Defendant.
“Post-judgment interest is awarded on the said sum of Euro233,000 at the rate of 10 percent per annum from judgment i.e. 14” of February, 2023 until final liquidation. The adjudged said sum of €233,000 and N50 million 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 prejudgment interest of 40 percent per annum on the €233,000.