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N650m Fraud: Akinjide, Others Freely Volunteered Statements - EFCC

Mr. Usman Zakari, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday, told a Federal High Court, Lagos that a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide, and two others currently facing trial over alleged N650 million fraud were not coerced, induced or forced to write statements while investigation into the matter lasted. 

Zakari, who was the second prosecution witness in the case made the disclosure while testifying in the Trial-Within-Trial (TWT), ordered by the court to determine the veracity of the defendants' claims that they were coerced to write the statements. 

The former Minister, Akinjide, Senator Adeseun and Olanrewaju Otiti, are standing trial before an Ibadan Federal High Court, over alleged  N650 million fraud.

The trio were arraigned alongside withe the former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, on a 12- count amended charge bordering on conspiracy, unlawful conversion and stealing of N650 million in the build up to the 2015 general elections.

At the resumed trial of the accused persons, the Investigator, Zakari, while being examined by the EFCC's lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, expressed his dismay at the objection raised by the defence lawyers to the admissibility of the statements. 

He claimed that the former minister was accompanied her lawyer, Olusegun Williams, on August 9, 2016, when she came to the Commission's office to write her first statement. 

He said: "I was the one that interviewed her with my other team members. During the course of the interview, the payment receipt of N650 million which was signed on the receipt of the money was shown to her and she volunteered to make a statement. 

"I instructed one of my colleagues, Tosin Owobo, to caution her and I read same to her. She later signed it and volunteered to write her statement regarding what transpired with the N650 million. At the end of taking her statement, she was granted bail and her husband took her in bail.

"The statements of the first defendant of August 9, 2016, August 25, 2016, November 21, 2016, December 2, 2016 and December 15, 2016, were voluntarily given by the 1st defendant. Also, the statements were devoid of threat, inducement and promise". 

He added that after the statements were obtained neither Akinjide nor her lawyer  lodged complaint of any foul play with the EFCC authorities.

The witness also gave similar evidence of how the other defendants wrote their statements voluntarily. 

Prior to the commencement of TWT, Zakari had told the court how the EFCC arrested one of Akinjide's co-accused, Senator Ayo Adeseun, in Ibadan and brought him to Lagos for interrogation.

He said at the time, Akinjide was out of the country and was sent a letter of invitation, which was replied by her lawyer. 

He said following her return from abroad, Akinjide came to the EFCC's office accompanied by her lawyer. 

"During the course of that interview, the first defendant (Akinjide) was confronted with the payment receipt, which she also confirmed the name, the address and the signature on it to be hers", Zakari stated.

Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to April 23.

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