Claim: A Facebook user claimed that a notorious kidnapper popularly known as Evans has been sentenced to death by the court.
The claim that the notorious kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike popularly known as Evans, has been sentenced to death is false, as his trial is still ongoing in court.
A popular social media personality Ayo Ojeniyi, shared in a Facebook post a video wherein it was claimed that a kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, has been sentenced to death.
The politics and current affairs commentator shared the video on Thursday, November 25, as conversations continue to heighten on the rise in kidnapping and general insecurity across the country.
Ojeniyi, who wrote with conviction, noted that there is a possibility of Evans appealing the verdict, which “may take another 3 years to conclude.”
“At last, Evans sentenced to death. Sure, he will appeal. But I am sure both the Appeal and Supreme Courts will confirm the sentence !!! It may take another 3 years to conclude. We are watching ooo,” he said in a post that garnered over 200 shares and numerous comments.
A check on the comments on the post showed that many of Ojeniyi’s Facebook friends truly believed Evans’ death sentence.
Dubawa discovered that this is not the first time news or video of Evans being sentenced to death would surface on the internet.
In 2020, numerous platforms including a blog tmnewsonline and a Youtube channel NollyconnectTV reported that the kidnapper was sentenced to death by a High Court sitting in Lagos. Fact-check by some media platforms showed that the claim is false and misleading.
Who is Evans?
Born Chukwudi Onuamadike in Nnewi Anambra State, Evans, also known as “billionaire kidnapper” was arrested in Lagos state in June 2017 by the operatives of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF).
Before his arrest, the “most wanted, vicious and highly notorious” kidnapper had been linked with several high-profile kidnapping cases in the country, with his victims including foreign nationals, traditional chiefs and wealthy businessmen.
Police report established that Evans usually operated with two separate gangs to conduct kidnappings: one to carry out the abduction and another to transfer the victim to a safe house.
In August 2017, he was arraigned before a judge of the Ikeja High Court on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping alongside five others: Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba over the alleged kidnap of Donatus Dunu, chief executive officer of Maydon Pharmaceutical Ltd.
He pleaded guilty to the offence and was remanded at Kirikiri Maximum Prison by the court with trial facing myriad adjournments since then.
On January 22, 2021, the notorious kidnapper who is a first defendant in the case made a U-turn and denied bearing Evans as his nickname, saying he is just a businessman forced by the police to sign “confession.”
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court in March 2021, gave the prosecution in the trial of Evans a “last chance to put its house in order” as the case continues to be delayed.
Evans’ last appearance in court was in June 2021 when his trial was stalled because his lawyer said the kidnapper’s witness “could no longer be reached via phone.”
Verifying the claim, Dubawa ran a Google search for the latest development on Evans’ trial, but no credible media has a report about his “sentence.”
The only recent report on his case (June 2021) was about the trial being stalled. According to his lawyer, Oyekunle Falabi, a prominent witness whose name was not given could not be reached via phone.
“My lord, ordinarily we are ready to go on, but I’m surprised that the first defendant’s (Evans) witness is not in court. My lord, we have even put her through as a witness and I am surprised that she is not here. I have been trying to reach her on the phone but her line is switched off. I am praying that the court should give us a short date,” Evans’ counsel told Justice Hakeem Oshodi as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as seen in Premium Times.
A related report (November 2021) by NAN, which was published by The Guardian Newspaper, was when one of the co-defendants in the Evans case, Joseph Emeka, told Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Special Offences Court that he was “losing his sight.”
And the fake video
Dubawa’s findings also established that the video being shared on social media to mislead people on Evans’ trial and the claim that Evans has been sentenced to death was extracted from a video interview with the billionaire kidnapper by Channels TV which was uploaded on their Youtube channel on June 15, 2017.
When contacted, a staff of the Lagos High Court who simply identified himself as Mr Nofiu said the case is still ongoing in the court of law.
“It’s a rumour on social media, as you rightly said. Just discard it,” he said.
There is no evidence or credible official report that the notorious billionaire kidnapper, Evans, has been sentenced to death by hanging by the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The researcher produced this media literacy article per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Legit.ng to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.