Objection to EFCC’s Witness’ Competence Stalls Adoke’s Trial

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Mohammed Bello Adoke
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Objection to EFCC’s Witness’ Competence Stalls Adoke’s Trial

Trial in the money laundering case against ex-Justice Minster and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke was stalled on Tuesday owing to the defence’s objection to the competence of the first prosecution witness, Clement Osagie of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja had scheduled trial for August 11 after Adoke and an Abuja-based businessman, Aliyu Abubakar were re-arraigned on July 4 this year on a 14-count amended charge marked: FHC/ABJ/93/39/2017, filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

At the mention of the case on Tuesday, the lead prosecuting lawyer, Bala Sanga called his first witness, Osagie, a subpoenaed witness from the CBN.

Shortly after Osagie mounted the witness box, lawyer to Abubakar, Olalekan Ojo (SAN) challenged the witness’ competence.

Ojo noted that Osagie was unknown to his client as a witness of the EFCC in the trial.

He referred the court to the charge and proof of evidence and noted that the prosecution did not list the names of its witnesses and attach summary of their statements as required by law.

Ojo cited Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and argued that the prosecution was required, under the law, to supply the names and other particulars of its witnesses to the defendants to enable them prepare their defence adequately.

He contended that fair trial requires that the defendants must know those that will testify against them in a criminal trial to avoid being caught unaware.

Ojo then prayed the court to compel the prosecution to do the needful before the trial could commence.

Responding, Sanga, who informed the court that he got to know about the witness only Monday evening, conceded to the argument and prayed the court for a short adjournment to enable the prosecution comply with the provision of law.

The other defendant however did not object to the request for a short adjournment, following which Justice Ekwo adjourned till August 13, 2020 for trial.

The judge ordered the prosecution to serve the defendants with all the particulars, processes that they are entitled to within 24 hours.

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