A Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, has adjourned the case of a former Head of Service, Stephen Oronsaye, to June 27.
Mr Oronsaye is standing trial for an alleged N2 billion pension fraud, along with Osarenkhoe Afe, managing director, Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited.
At the resumed sitting on June 19, Oluwole Aladedoye, counsel for Afe and Fredrick Hamilton, cross-examined Rouqayya Ibrahim, an EFCC operative, who testified as the first prosecution witness.
Mr Aladedoye confronted the witness with an advertisement from the Office of the HoS calling for verification of pensioners across the 36 states of the Federation, including Abuja, in 38 designations centres, and questioned Ms Ibrahim whether she interviewed any such pensioner.
“In the course of our investigations, we investigated fake pensioners, and their statements were taken, and at the moment some of them are standing trial,” she said, and told the court that she did not know of any such advert.
Ms Ibrahim further explained that her team of investigators investigated biometric contracts particularly, “the contracts surrounding the verification and other related contracts”.
“Our investigation also revealed that a number of them did not carry out any contract for payments received,” she added.
Mr Aladedoye, thereafter confronted the witness with Exhibit 1a, a statement made by MrAfe in the course of investigations, and urged the Court to provide her with a piece of paper and pen, for her to write out the cautionary words in the statement, since according to him, “she said she obtained the statement from him”.
The request was, however, objected to by prosecuting counsel, O.A. Atolagbe, arguing that the issue of the statement had already been decided by the court after the conclusion of a trial-within-trial.
“The counsel cannot have a second bite on the cherry, the court having ruled on the admissibility of the statement,” he argued, stressing that allowing the question to suffice will amount to “going round in circles”.
Citing Section 101 of the Evidence Act, Mr Aladedoye, however, further argued that it was in order for the court to allow for signature, writing or seal or fingerprint may be compared with one to be proved.
“Our case is that she did not obtain the statement as she claims, and what we seek to do is permissible in Law,” he said.
Justice Kolawole, thereafter overruled the request of the prosecution, and ordered a paper be given to the witness to write out in her own handwriting, the cautionary words. It was admitted by the Court as Exhibit 1c
Under cross-examination, Ms Ibrahim further reiterated that Abdulrasheed Maina, a former chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms, was still wanted by the EFCC to answer for pension fraud allegations against him. Her affirmation came after Aladedoye presented a photocopy of page 20 of the Punch Newspapers, dated January 20, 2012 , titled, “N151 billion fraud uncovered in Pension Offices”.
“They are at liberty to write whatever they like, but it has nothing to do with our investigations,” she said.