A provision in the new Administration of Criminal Justice Laws of Lagos State(ACJL 2021) is set to be applied in a criminal trial as an Ikeja Special Offences Court will have two witnesses in the Evans kidnappings case give their evidences online.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, the trial judge handling the case of kidnappings against kidnapping kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike granted leave to the witnesses who fear for their lives to give their evidences via audiovisual means.
Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu on October 5, 2021 signed into law ACJL 2021. Part of the reforms in the new law include conducting criminal proceedings through audio and video conferencing platform. Others are powers of Chief Magistrate to visit Police Stations, prohibition of media parade of suspects, compensation to victims of crime, protective measures for victims and witnesses as well as the Establishment of a Crime Data Register and the Criminal Justice Sector Reform Committee to monitor the implementation of this Law.
Justice Taiwo gave the approval following an application by the state prosecutor, Ms S.O Fashola that the evidence of two prosecution witnesses be heard in court via audiovisual means.
“This court is satisfied that the prosecution has given cogent reasons why Section 210 of the Evidence Act 2011and Section 200(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law as amended should avail the prosecution.
“It is stated on the affidavit that the witnesses are concerned for their lives and that of their families and they now live outside the jurisdiction of the court.
“In the light of this and in the interest of justice and expedite action, I hereby grant the application as prayed.
“The case is adjourned to Dec. 17 for hearing. The prosecution should ensure that necessary arrangements are made,” Taiwo said.
Evans is standing trial alongside Victor Aduba, a dismissed member of the Nigerian Army. They are charged with four-counts of kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms.
Evans and the dismissed soldier are accused by the prosecution of kidnapping Mr Sylvanus Ahamonu, holding him hostage for at least nine weeks and collecting a ransom of 420,000 dollars from his family.