The absence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) fourth witness on Tuesday, stalled the trial of six public officials allegedly involved in N24 billion police pension scam in an FCT High Court, Maitama.
The defendants are: Atiku Abubakar Kigo; Ahmed Inuwa Wada; Mrs Veronica Ulonma Onyegbulam; Sani Habila Zira; Mrs Uzoma Cryril Attang and Christian Madubuke.
Mustapha Gadanya, an officer of Ecobank, was EFCC’s fourth witness and testified on December 9, 2020 but could not continue when Onyegbula’s counsel Mr Ernest Ikeji objected to the admissibility of documents he brought.
Gadanya, in his testimony against the third defendant, Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, presented her bank account opening documents, account statements and Certificate of Identification on the documents from Eco bank.
Same were tendered in evidence by prosecution.
However, counsel to the defendant, objected to the admissibility of the documents.
He argued that PW4 was not eligible to testify on the matter because the name and signature on the account opening documents he testified on, do not belong to him, and furthermore, that they were computer-generated.
EFCC in their response cited Section 84 of the Evidence Act, and explained that a computer-generated document is admissible in court.
Adding that, provided that the document is accompanied by a written Certificate of Identification by the appropriate authority and can also be presented orally in court, without the physical presence of the person who printed it.
The judge, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf fixed January 19 to rule on the admissibility of the document.
When the matter was called on Tuesday, Mr Oluwatosin Mese, who held the brief of Rotimi Jacob, SAN as the prosecutor told the court that the witness was indesponse.
Baba-Yusuf then adjourned until March 16 and 17 for ruling on the admissibility of documents and continuation of trial.
The defendants were first arraigned before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, with the case number FCT/CR/64/2012 in 2013 on 20-count charge bordering on conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
They were then arraigned alongside Esau Dangabar, who died on July 24, 2019 in the course of hearing.
In view of Dangabar’s death, EFCC on October 17, 2019 filed a motion before the court for amendment of charge with a view to removing the name of the first defendant from the charge.
EFCC then amended the charge to reflect 18 pursuant to Section 216 and 218 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and re-arraigned them on Feb. 18, 2020.
EFCC alleged that the defendants conspired between January 2008 and June 2011 to commit criminal breach of trust by public officers in respect of the sum of N20. 1 billion.
The offence the anti graft said was punishable under Section 97 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532, Laws of the FCT, Nigeria 2007.
They were also alleged to have between January, 2009 and June, 2011 knowingly disobeyed the order contained in the Federal Government Treasury Circular dated October 22, 2008 lawfully promulgated by the Accountant-General of the Federation.
The EFCC further alleged that the defendants converted N20.1 billion belonging to the Police Pension Office to their own use.
This offence is punishable under Section 309 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532, Laws of the FCT, Nigeria 2007, among other charges.