A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday ordered a “trial-within-trial” to determine the voluntariness of certain statements purportedly made by a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mrs Jumoke Akinjide, and two others charged with allegations of fraud and money laundering to the tune of N650million.
Mrs Akinjide is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside a former senator, Ayo Adeseun, and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olarenwaju Otiti.
Also mentioned in the charge is a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is said to be “at large”.
According to the anti-graft agency, the accused persons all allegedly conspired to directly take possession of N650million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act which did not go through a financial institution.
At the proceedings today (Monday), the EFCC continued with the testimony of a second prosecution witness, Mr Usman Zakari, who is an investigating officer with the commission.
The witness told the court that his investigations revealed that there were no banking instruments to justify the claims by the defendants that the money came from the PDP.
He also said the former minister, in statements made in the presence of her lawyer, confirmed that she had signed for the payment of the N650 million.
Zakari added that Akinjide had subsequently provided a document stating how the N650million was disbursed without the use of a financial institution.
He told the court that after the second defendant was arrested, he confirmed his details in the documents showing how he signed for the money disbursed to him.
At this stage, the EFCC then sought to tender the statements but the lawyers to the defendants raised objections and submitted that the statements were made under duress and inducement.
They further asked the court to order a trial-within-trial to determine how the statements were extracted.
Despite the objections of the EFCC, Justice Hassan, in a short ruling, ordered a trial-within-trial.
He also adjourned the case till April 23 and 24 for continuation.
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