The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday admitted in evidence, the statement made by Abubakar Umar , the fourth prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Gabriel Suswam, former Benue governor.
It will be recalled that attempts by the prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs, on January 31 to enter into evidence, the statement alleging that the witness was pressured into changing his statement were resisted by Mr. Suswam’s counsel, Joseph Daudu.
At the resumed trial, Justice Ahmed Mohammed ruled that relevance determined admissibility of documents in a case and that the statement in contention was relevant to the matter.
The judge said that the defence was at liberty to raise their doubts concerning the statement in their final written addresses.
He, adjourned the matter until April 19 for continuation of hearing.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Mr. Jacobs, on January 31, told the court that Mr. Umar said he was coerced by Mr. Suswam’s team.
Mr. Jacobs read part of the statement where the witness said that he was under a lot of pressure from the people around Mr. Suswam to change his statement and was told he would be offered money if he did.
Mr. Daudu, however, objected to his admitting the said witness’s statement in evidence on the grounds that the original statement, which was made in Hausa language ought to be tendered before the court.
He said it was only from the original statement made in Hausa that the true testimony of the witness could be deciphered.
NAN also recalls that the prosecution had in 2017 declared Mr. Umar a ‘hostile witness,’ saying he gave contradictory evidence in court outside the statement he made to the EFCC.
Mr. Umar, had in his statement to the EFCC, said that he took the money to the governor in his residence in Maitama, but had told the court that he took the money to the Government House in Makurdi, Benue.
Mr, Suswam and his former Commissioner for Finance, Omadachi Oklobia are standing trial on a nine- count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N3.1 billion.(NAN)