The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday at an FCT High Court, Maitama, Abuja, closed its case in the trial- within –trial of the fourth defendant in the N14billion Police Pension scam.
Veronica Onyegbula, is the fourth defendant in the case filed by the EFCC against them.
Others are: Esar Dangabar, Atiku Kigo, Ahmed Wada, Sani Zira, Uzoma Attang, and Christian Madubuke. The prosecuting counsel, Oluwaleke Atulegbe, informed the court that EFCC had closed its case after calling four witnesses to testify. At one of the sittings, Atulegbe sought to tender statements made by Onyegbula through Mr Mustapha Gandaya, an EFCC officer.
The EFCC officer is a witness brought by the prosecution, but her counsel opposed tendering of the document. Onyegbula’s counsel, Mr Ernest Ikeji, informed the court that EFCC forced his client to make those statements and prayed for trial-within-trial. At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Gadaya was brought by the prosecution as the fourth witness to testify in the trial-within-trial. Gadaya, led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Atulegbe, told the court that he was among the team that investigated Onyegbula then, but he was now working with Standard Chartered Bank as a banker.
He said that on Feb. 16, 2012, other defendants were released because they met the bail conditions, but the fourth defendant was not released because she could not meet the conditions. He said that on Feb. 17, 2012, a search was carried out at the fourth defendant’s resident after which she made two statements. The witness said the interview room had a recording system, but when they went back to retrieve the information they were told that due to the system upgrading, EFCC lost all the recording.
According to the witness, the EFCC said the recording system then was not compatible with the new system. When cross examined by Ikeji, the fourth defendant’s counsel, the witness said that as at Feb. 16, all other defendants had left the EFCC custody except the fourth defendant. He said that this was because she could not fulfill the bail condition and EFCC took her to her house for search after which she made another statement. He said that the fourth defendant was not induced;
she even on her own came to the commission to make further statements, adding that he recommended that she should be granted bail. The witness said the fourth defendant was released after the search on Feb. 17, the bail condition was lowered for her because she could not meet the earlier conditions. The judge, Justice Hussein Baba- Yusuf adjourned the matter until March 15 for the defence to commence, after Ikeji prayed the court for adjournment to enable him appraise the case of the fourth defendant. (NAN)