A former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu Nunayon (rtd) standing trial over alleged N22.8bn fraud on Wednesday asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to disqualify a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Owobo Tosin from giving evidence in the matter.
Air Marshal Amosu, and the two serving senior Air Force Officers, Air Vice Marshal Adigun, Commodore Olugbenga and some limited liability companies were charged before the court on June 29, for the alleged fraud.
The companies were; Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, McAllan Oil and Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited, Trapezitrs Bureau De Change ((BDC), Fonds and Pricey Limited, Deegee Oil and Gas Limited, Timsegg Investment Limited, and Solomon Health Care Limited.
The accused persons were alleged to have committed the offences between March 5, 2014, and May 4, 2015.
EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, had already commenced the examination of the witness, an investigative officer with the commission, when Amosu’s lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) expressed concern about the refusal of the anti-graft agency to attach the statement of the witness to the proof of evidence.
According to him, the witness would only be competent to give any evidence in the matter when copies of his statement were served on the defendants by the EFCC.
Citing Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, Ayorinde said it is mandatory for any witness who is to give evidence to have a statement.
He said the non-availability of the witness’ statement is a gross violation of the defendants’ right to fair hearing as enshrined in the constitution. He then urged the court to disqualify the witness from testifying in the matter.
Ayorinde’s position was also adopted by other defence lawyers.
However, in his response, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo while citing Section 175 of the Evidence Act maintained that the only time a witness can be disqualified by the court is when he cannot understand questions.
According to him, the proof of evidence served on the defence as far back as June 2016 substantially complied with the provisions of Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
He added that it is wrong to be asking for the statement of an investigative officer because he was merely investigating an incident.
Justice Idris will deliver his ruling on the issue on Thursday.
Amosu was on June 29 arraigned by the EFCC alongside Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga and eight companies.
The companies are: Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil And Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd, Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Ltd, Deegee Oil and Gas Ltd, Timsegg Investment Ltd and Solomon Health Care.