The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has revealed how its investigators got evidence from the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation (AG-F), Ahmed Idris on his alleged involvement in the diversion of about N109 billion public funds.
An investigator with the EFCC, Hayatudeen Ahmed, told a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that Idris voluntarily offered written statements to the commission when confronted with facts of the agency’s investigative activities in relation to the fraud allegation against him.
Led in evidence by a lawyer to the prosecution, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, Ahmed gave details of how Idris voluntarily made 13 statements, mostly in the presence of his lawyers.
Ahmed spoke on Wednesday at the commencement of the trial-within-trial ordered by the court to ascertain the veracity of Idris’ lawyers’ claim that he was influenced by the EFCC to make the statements.
The trial-within-trial was ordered by the trial judge, Justice Halilu Yusuf upon the objection raised on November 23, 2022 by the defence team led by Chris Uche (SAN).
Idris, his former Technical Assistant, Godfrey Olusegun Akindele; a director in the office of the AG-F, Mohammed Kudu Usman (director in AG-F office) and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited are being tried by the EFCC on a 14-count charge bordering on stealing and criminal breach of trust to the tune of N109b.
On November 23, 2022, Ahmed (the first prosecution witness) detailed how Idris voluntarily returned about $900,000 part of the public funds he allegedly diverted.
He also told the court how N84.7 billion was taken from the $ 2.2 billion due to the nine oil-producing states and shared by some senior government officials.
The prosecution’s moved, through Ahmed, to tender statements made by Idris and the defendants, in support of the witness’s testimony was stalled by Uche, who claimed that Idris was hoodwinked by EFCC’s Investigators to make the statements.
Although details of the statements have not yet been revealed, Uche claimed his client was hoodwinked into making the 15 statements he (Uche) said Idris made to Investigators.
On Wednesday, Ahmed told the court how Idris, on his own volition, made statements to EFCC investigators.
As against the defence’s claim, Ahmed stated that Idris volunteered his statements made between January 22 and June 27, 2022, adding that, on occasions, he wrote statements in the presence his lawyers.
Some of such occasions when Idris wrote statements in the presence of his lawyers, the witness said, include May 17, 2022 when the Director of Legal Services, Office of the AG-F, by name, Haruna Isa.
The witness said Idris’ statement was taken on May 21, 2022 in relation to an investigation regarding his alleged involvement IN the alleged fraud of billions.
Ahmed added: “The first defendant made the statement voluntarily in the presence of his lawyer. In the end, the lawyer signed as a witness. The lawyer’s name is Oduduabasi Itue, from Paul Erokoro’s chambers.”
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The witness added that Idris made another statement on June 1, 2022, which was witnessed by another of his lawyers, Paul Erokoro (SAN).
The witness said Idris made an additional statement on June 10, 2022, which was witnessed by one of the ex-AG-F’s associates, Alhaji Badamasi.
The EFCC investigator further told the court that Idris made another statement on June 27, 2022, in the company of another lawyer – Olugbenga Adeyemi,
After Ahmed explained how Idris provided his statements voluntarily, Uche objected to Atolagbe’s request to tender the 13th statement said to have been made by Idris on July 5 2015
Uche noted that the statement on July 5 was not part of the proof of evidence served on his team by the prosecution.
The trial judge and lawyers to the other defendants also noted that the July 5th, 2022 statement by Idris was not before the court.
Upon the observation by the court and lawyers to the defence, Atolagbe scanned through his file and stated that the omission of the state was an error.
Atolagbe admitted that he also omitted to include the statement in his case file. He sought an adjournment to enable him to rectify the error.
Uche and others did not object, following which Justice Halilu adjourned further proceedings till May 11.
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