Alleged N544.1m fraud: Court fixes July 6 for ruling in EFCC’s witness eligibility against ex-SGF

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Babachir Lawal
Babachir Lawal

JUSTICE Jude Okeke of an FCT High Court on Wednesday fixed July 6 to rule on the eligibility of EFCC witness to testify in the alleged N544.1 million fraud filed against a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and six others.

The EFCC charged Lawal alongside six others with alleged N544.1 million contract fraud.

Also charged is the former SGF, his brother, Hamidu, who is a director of Rholavision Engineering Limited;  an employee of the company, Sulaiman Abubakar and the Managing Director of Josmon Technologies Limited, Apeh John

The judge fixed July 6 after listening to arguments of all the counsel in the matter on the eligibility of the EFCC’ s witness testifying in the case.

At the resumed hearing of the case, the prosecution called a Compliance Officer from Eco Bank Plc, Chidi Eboigbe, to testify for it.

Counsel for the former SGF, Akin Olujinmi SAN,  however, objected to the witness giving evidence in the case, saying that he was not listed by the prosecution in its proof of evidence before the court.

“I have looked through the proof of evidence and I cannot see any name like that of the witness.

” The only name I saw is Obadina Abiola Ganiyu, who made a statement to EFCC on 15/11/2017.

“It is settled that for a witness to be called he must be listed, he cannot testify because we don’t know what the witness will say and we cannot prepare for the purpose of cross-examination,” he said.

Olujimi then urged the court to rule out the witness from testifying in the case, citing the provision of Section 379 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

Counsel for other defendants aligned themselves with the submission of Olujimi, adding that the prosecution wanted to take the defendants by surprise.

They separately argued that it was a statutory provision that the prosecution must give the defendants all materials they need to prepare for their defence.

The prosecuting counsel, Offem Uket, told the court that the prosecution had listed representatives of Eco Bank as a witness in the case.

According to him, Eboigbe was not in court in his personal capacity but as a representation of the bank to speak on the statement of account from the bank already part of the proof of evidence before the court.

Uket further argued that the bank is juristic personnel that can always act through a servant, saying that, “that being the case, any staff of the bank can be assigned to come to court to speak on its past records.”

He, therefore, urged the court to discountenance the defendants’ objections. Replying to this on point of law, Olujinmi stated that the case cited by the prosecution was meant for civil cases and not criminal mater like the present case.

He added that the prosecution ought to have taken advantage of the provision of Section 379 (3) of ACJA and file additional evidence at any stage before judgment.

After listening to arguments and counter-arguments on the eligibility of the witness to testify, Okeke then adjourned until July 6 to rule on it. (NAN)

– Jun. 10, 2020 @ 15:09 GMT |

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