LAGOS – Absence of defence counsel on Wednesday stalled further hearing in the trial of alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (a.k.a Evans).

Onwuamadike is facing charges of conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping and attempted murder before Justice Akintoye.

In the first charge, Onwuamadike is standing trial alongside Joseph Emeka, Ugochukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba.

In the second charge, he is standing trial along with Joseph Emeka, Linus Okpara and Victor Aduba.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, a member of the defence team, Mr Ogedi Ogu, told the court that lead defence counsel, Mr Emmanuel Ochai, was absent.

Ogu said that Ochei’s absence could be due the court boycott directive by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

NAN reports that, in the directive it issued on Monday, NBA asked its members to boycott courts on Tuesday and Wednesday to protest suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

Ogu prayed the court to adjourn the case which, he said, was a sensitive one and should not proceed in the absence of Ochei.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Jide Martins, did not oppose the application.

Justice Adedayo Akintoye consequently adjourned the case until March 1 for further hearing.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on Jan. 16, during trial within trial, Onwuamadike denied the confessional statement he made to the police after his arrest in 2017.

He told the court that he made the statement under duress.

The accused said that he signed the statement to save him from being tortured to death.

He narrated how members of Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team allegedly tortured and killed in his presence, some others paraded along with him.

He said that the security agents tortured the victims by suffocating them with plastic bags and threatened to do same to him if he would not cooperate with them.

He testified that the content of the papers (statement) he signed were not read to him and that there was no video recording.

Onwuamadike was led in evidence by his counsel, Mr O. I. Ajanuku.

However, he was cross-examined by Lagos State counsel to prove that he did not make the statement under duress.