The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Monday, failed in its attempt to smuggle in a document as additional evidence in the on-going trial of Nigeria’s former Head of Service, Mr. Steve Oronsaye before Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja.
Leading a witness, Bello Hammadhama in evidence, Prosecution Counsel, I.O. Uket had tendered a letter from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, being a reply to EFCC’s earlier correspondence, without following required Court procedures.
Responding, lead Defence Counsel, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN) opposed the submission of the document, arguing that it did not form part of the Commission’s earlier proof of evidence, an argument that forced the Prosecution counsel to request for the withdrawal of the document.
In her ruling, the presiding Judge, Justice Olasumbo Goodluck upheld the Defence Counsel’s objection, rejecting the letter.
“Mr. Uket, did you seek the leaf of this Court to add it to the matter? I gave an order earlier that you put yourself in order and file all the records because I foresaw these challenges. Can you just file court documents without seeking leaf in filing additional papers? You made an oral application for the document to be admitted in evidence and the defence objected to its admissibility. It is already before the Court and issues have been joined.”
“The prosecution, haven applied and the defence objected, the Court is bound to rule on it. The document is not properly filed before this Court. Accordingly, this document is rejected in evidence,” the Judge ruled.
The matter was adjourned to: 24th of June and 8th of July, as well as 28th and 29th of September 2016 for continuation of hearing.
It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC in March, 2016, dragged Nigeria’s former Head of Service, Stephen Oronsaye before Justice Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja on charges bothering on alleged breach of trust while in office as Chairman, Presidential Committee on the Financial Action Taskforce.
The EFCC has severally been accused of witch-hunting the former head of service by those following events closely and other stakeholders.
A Civil Society Organisation, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) had alleged that Oronsaye’s ordeals started following his recommendation for the merger of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) and his strong support for autonomy for the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), a Department in the EFCC. NFIU is believed to be the highest source of foreign donor support to the EFCC.
Also, in a Statement made available to newsmen, a non-governmental organisation, the Integrity Group alleged persecution in the on-going trial of the former Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye.
The statement signed by the National Coordinator of the Group, James Alo and Secretary, Aliu Sanni, reiterated that “the report of the Presidential Committee on the Rationalization and Restructuring of the Civil Service, which Oronsaye chaired, proposed the merger of the EFCC with the ICPC and the autonomy of the NFIU in line with Nigeria’s agreement with international anti-graft and anti-money laundering agencies.”
The group wondered why the EFCC would exhume a case which had been investigated and which cleared Oronsaye of any wrong doing.