A judge of the Federal High Court in Lagos, Rilwan Aikawa, on Tuesday set May 31 for ruling on whether the court will admit the extra-judicial statements made by two former ministers to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This is in a case of conspiracy to retain proceeds of theft the EFCC brought against the ministers and two others.
The defendants are a former Minister of Finance, Nenandi Usman; her colleague in Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode; Danjuma Yusuf and a company, John Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.
During proceedings, the counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, had sought to tender the statements of the defendants to the court through the third prosecution witness, Shehu Shuaibu.
But this was met by objections by their counsel on the ground that they made the statements without legal advice.
Counsel to the first defendant, Ferdinand Orbit, told the court that the Constitution, the Evidence Act and ACJA clearly stated the procedure for obtaining statements from an accused. He said the prosecution failed to comply with it.
“I urged my lord not to admit this documents as exhibits as EFCC did not comply with the law. I pray this honorable court not to admit it and mark it as rejected.”
Mrs Usman’s counsel, Mr Orbit, also told the court that there was nothing to show that the witness through whom the prosecution sought to tender the statement was also the investigating police officer (IPO) in the case and the one who obtained the statement from his client.
Norrison Quaker, counsel to Mr Fani-Kayode, the second defendant in the matter, also argued that failure to comply with the ACJA in obtaining statements from accused could not be ignored in the interest of justice.
Responding, the prosecuting counsel faulted the arguments of all the defence counsel. Mr Oyedepo said that the counsel misinterpreted all the authorities they cited. He urged the court to discountenance the submissions of the defence and admit the statements as exhibits.
Mrs Usman, Mr Fani-Kayode and the other defendants are standing trial before the judge on a 17-count charge of alleged N4.6 billion fraud.
The EFCC, in the charge marked FHC/L/C/251c/2016, accused the defendants of conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.