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Armsgate: Amosu, Others Challenged Tendering of Their Statements By EFCC Witness

The trial of three former Airforce Chiefs, Air Marshall Adesola Nunayon Amosu, Vice Marshall Jacob Adigun, and Commodore Gbadebo Olugbenga, over alleged N22. 8 billion fraud, before a Federal High Court, Lagos, on Wednesday, took another twist as they jointly opposed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness, Tosin Owobo, tendering their statements.

Air Marshal Amosu, Vice Marshall Adigun, and Commodore Gbadebo, alongside eight limited liability companies are being tried before the court over alleged fraud, while acting as Chief of Air Staff, Director of Finance and Budgeting, and Deputy Director of Finance and Budgeting of Nigeria Air Force (NAF)

Companies charged alongside the trio are: Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, Mcallan Oil And Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited, Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Limited, Timsegg Investment Limited and Solomon Health Care Services.

During the trial the former Airforce Chiefs, Owobo, and investigator with the EFCC had told the court that he was among the team that investigated and took the statement of the three former Airforce Chiefs.

At the trial of the defendants yesterday, Owobo who is the second prosecution witness after narrating how several Nigerian banks aided the defendants in the alleged fraud, tendered their statements, which he said were jointly taken by his team.

However, at the resumed trial of the former Airforce Chiefs, their lawyers, led by Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, Mr. Norrison Quakers, Kemi Balogun, Rotimi Ogunesan, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), leading other lawyers, opposed the tendering of their clients' statements by the second prosecution witness (Tosin Owobo).

The defence team, while citing Section 17(2) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, said the statements can only be tendered by an officer who endorsed the statements.

Chief Ayorinde (SAN), particularly stated that page one to 16 of his client's statement were not endorsed, it was only page 17 and 18 of the statements were endorsed by one Obinna Hycinth. Adding that since the second prosecution witness (Owobo) was not the person who endorsed the statements, the court should not admit the statement through him, rather, the statement should be admmitted through Obinna Hycinth, who endorsed the statements.

Other defendants' lawyers adopted the arguments and submission of Chief Ayorinde (SAN).

Responding, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, while urging the court to admit the statements sought to be tender through the second prosecution witness (Tosin Owobo), submitted that the Section of ACJA cited by defence team does not regulate the receiving of dicument of evidence but Evidence Act.

Oyedepo particularly told the court that the only convinceable objection of the statements of the defendants can only arise on the ground of involuntariness, especially, when the statements are produced in their original forms. Adding that in the case where objection is raised by the defence, what the court can do is to order for trial-within-trial.

He therefore urged the court to discountenance the objection raised by the defendants and admit the statements through the second prosecution witness.

Responding to EFCC on point of law, Chief Ayorinde (SAN) and other defendants' lawyer while citing plethora authorities, insisted that the court should not admit the statements through the second prosecution witness, and equally urged the court to ignore the call for trial-within-trial by the prosecution.

After listened to the arguments and submissions of both parties, Justice Mohammed Idris, adjourned the matter till Thursday, for ruling and continuation of trial of the three defendants and their companies.
The accused persons were first arraigned before the court on June 29, on 23 counts charge bordering on Fraud, money laundering, and stealing.

The offences are contrary to sections 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

It would be recalled that the witness had on Tuesday told Justice Idris led-Court how the three Airforce Chiefs, used fictitious Oil and Gas companies to laundered the sum of N5.9 billion, received from Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Air Force (NAF) through the aides of some banks in Nigeria.

Some of the banks mentioned in the alleged fraud are Zenith Bank, UBA, Ecobank, FCMB, Ecobank, Diamond Bank, and Skye Bank.

Parts of the alleged fraud he said the defendants used to buying properties both in Nigeria and United Kingdom, and equipments for their individual firms.


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