A prosecution witness, Usman Zakari, in the ongoing trial of a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, and others, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, told Justice Muslim S. Hassan of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos that the former minister was not mandated to write down her statement upon her invitation to the Commission’s office.
Akinjide alongside Senator Ayo Adeseun and a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart, Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, were re-arraigned on January 16, 2018, on an amended 24-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N650m.
They were alleged to have received the money from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general election.
The money was part of the $115million allegedly disbursed by Alison- Madueke to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.
The judge had, on April 9, 2018, ordered a trial within trial to determine the voluntariness of the statements, in view of the claim by the defendant that her statement was made under duress and inducement.
However, at the resumed hearing today, Zakari, an investigator with the EFCC, while being cross-examined by the counsel to the first defendant, Bolaji Ayoride, SAN, told the court that he did not specifically request her to make a statement, but that she volunteered to reduce the interview in writing.
Zakari told the court that the first defendant reported to the EFCC office in company with her lawyer and husband on August 9, 2016, where she was interviewed.
“She volunteered her statement, and I supervised the writing of the statement after reading the cautionary words to her,” he added.
When he was asked if there was a manual for interrogation of suspects, Zakari said he did not know of any, adding that “I relied on the training I got both internationally and locally as well as the experience gathered on the job over the years.
“I followed strictly the training procedures on suspect handling and care.”
Zakari reiterated that he did not put any questions to the first defendant while she was writing down her statement.
Zakari, who said he allowed the former minister to reduce her response in writing, also denied arresting her after the interview.
Counsel to the first defendant, Ayorinde, informed the court that since he wrote letters requesting the attendance and record of movement of the first defendant, he had not been availed the documents.
“My Lord, this request was made on April 23, 2018 and May 15, 2018 and these applications are informed by Section 36 of the constitution and Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. I believe that your Lordship directed that we be furnished with all that has been requested for”, he said.
The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, however, responded that he only received the letter yesterday (Tuesday, May 15, 2018) and had produced the documents that the prosecution had in its custody.
“I received an unfiled notice from the SAN, and I have a certified true copy of the register of the movement of the first defendant on August 9, 10 and 25, 2016 as well as the record of November 2, 2016.
“There are two other requests in the letter, one being the statement of Aliyu Ahmed Patigi allegedly made on August 9 and 25, 2016, and the other requesting the production of the cheque of the sum of N10,000,000( Ten Million Naira)made by Aliyu Patigi on November 15, 2016.
“We have the certified true copy of the statements of Aliyu Ahmed Patigi on August 10, 2016 and November 15, 2016. We do not have the ones the defence is requesting for.
” Also, the cheque requested for is not in our custody, as it has since been remitted to the EFCC Recovery Funds Main account domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria”, Rotimi submitted.
Justice Hassan, in a short ruling, allowed the prosecution to front-load the documents to the first defendant’s counsel.
The matter was adjourned to June 5 and 6, 2018 for continuation of trial within trial.
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