A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to make some vital documents available to the Former FCT Minister, Jumoke Akinjide and two others, in defence of the N650m Money Laundering Charges against them.
After this directive, Justice Muslim Hassan adjourned the trial to Friday, March 9, 2018.
The directive followed complaints by the defence team that they were yet to be served with certain documents, including reports of investigation, which the prosecution intended to rely upon in the case.
The former FCT Minister, Jumoke Akinjide, and the two others are facing 24 charges bordering on conspiracy and money laundering.
The other defendants are a former Senator, Ayo Adeseun and a PDP Chieftain, Mrs Olanrewaju Otiti.
The trio was arraigned on January 16, 2018, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The anti-graft agency accused them of collecting N650m from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
The EFCC claimed that they ought to have “reasonably known that the money formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act,” adding that they handled it without going through a financial institution in violation of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act – but they all pleaded not guilty.
A move to explore a plea bargain agreement with the EFCC also fell through and the judge had fixed Thursday the 8th of March for trial.
At the resumed proceedings on Thursday, the defence team, raised objections to the competence of an investigative officer with the EFCC, Usman Zakari, to testify as a witness in the case.
They contended that Zakari’s statement was not frontloaded as part of the proof of evidence made available to them by the prosecution and allowing the investigator to testify would breach their clients’ right to fair hearing under Section 36 of the Constitution.
But the EFCC Prosecutor insisted that the Commission had complied with the necessary requirement of the law.
In a short ruling, Justice Hassan upheld the right of the investigator to testify.
The testimony had barely begun when the defence team objected to his testimony.
The investigator, Zakari had begun by saying, “I know the defendants. Sometime early 2015, the commission received intelligence, a top classified ‘Category A’ intelligence, that sometime late 2014 – that should be in December – there was a meeting at the resident of the then Petroleum Minister.”
But he was interrupted by one of the defence counsel, who argued that this fact was not in the proof of evidence supplied by the EFCC.
The other defence lawyers aligned with him and after long arguments in the issue, Justice Hassan said he would adjourn the case till Friday for the prosecutor to serve the defence with all necessary documents.
On another request made by one of the defendants, Senator Adeseun for the transfer of the case to Ibadan for convenience, the judge said that the issue could only be determined by the Chief Judge of the Court.
The 2nd defendant had told the court that for his client to effectively defend himself, he would need to call no fewer than 65 party leaders in Ibadan as witnesses.
He said it would not be convenient to bring the 65 party leaders from Ibadan to Lagos.
But the EFCC had objected to this request on the ground that the case was formerly in Ibadan, and was transferred to Lagos at the instance of the defendants, particularly the 1st defendant.
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