Alleged N109b fraud: Court Adjourns Trial Of AG-F Idris, Others

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Alleged N109b fraud: Court Adjourns Trial Of AG-F Idris, Others

Alleged N109b fraud: Court Adjourns Trial Of AG-F Idris, Others
March 02
07:36 2023

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday narrated how its investigators got evidence from the suspended Accountant General of the Federation (AG-F) Ahmed Idris while probing 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 investigations on the fraud allegation against him.

Led in evidence by the prosecution alwyer Oluwaleke Atolagbe, Ahmed gave details of how Idris voluntarily made 13 statements, mostly in the presence of his lawyers.

Ahmed spoke during the commencement of the trial-within-trial ordered by the court to ascertain the veracity of the claims by lawyers to Idris, who averred that the defendant was pressured by the EFCC to make the statements.

The trial-within-trial was ordered by the trial judge, Justice Halilu Yusuf, folowing 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 (a director in AG-F’s office); as well as 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 N109 billion.

On November 23, 2022, Ahmed (the first prosecution witness) detailed how Idris voluntary returned about $900,000 part of the public funds he allegedly diverted.

The EFCC witness also told the court how N84.7 billion was taken from the $2.2 billion meant for nine oil producing states and shared by some senior government officials.

The prosecution’s move, through Ahmed, to tender statements made by Idris and the other 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 were not revealed, Uche claimed that investigators hoodwinked his client into making the 15 statements.

But Ahmed told the court yesterday how Idris, on his own volition, made the statements to EFCC investigators.

As against the defence’s claim, the prosecution witness said Idris volunteered his statements between January 22 and June 27, 2022, adding that on many occasions, the defendant wrote the statements in the presence his lawyers.

Some of such occasions, the EFCC said, included May 17, 2022, when the Director of Legal Services in the Office of the AG-F, Haruna Isa, accompanied Idris to write his statement.

The witness said Idris’s statement was again taken on May 21, 2022 in the investigation on his alleged involvement in alleged N4 billion fraud.

Ahmed added: “The first defendant made the statement voluntary in the presence of his lawyer. At the end, the lawyer signed as the witness. The lawyer’s name is Oduduabasi Itue from Paul Erokoro’s Chambers.”

The prosecution witness also said Idris made another statement on June 1, 2022, which was witnessed by another lawyers, Paul Erokoro (SAN).

He said Idris made additional statement on June 10, 2022, which was witnessed by one of the ex-AG-F’s associate, Alhaji Badamasi.

The EFCC investigator also 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 voluntary, 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 of 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 averred that the statement Idris made on July 5, 2022 was not before the court.

Upon the observation by the court and lawyers to the defence, Atolagbe checked his file and said the omission of the statement was an error.

The lawyer, who admitted that he also omitted to include the statement in his case file, sought an adjournment to enable him rectify the error.

Uche and others did not object, and Justice Halilu adjourned further proceedings till May 11.

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