Corruption Charge: Court Admits Oronsaye’s Co-defendant’s Statements as Exhibits

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the the Federal High Court sitting in
Abuja on Monday admitted in evidence two statements of the second
co-defendant in the trial of a former Head of Service (HoS) to the
Federation, Stephen Oronsaye on an amended 35-count charge bordering
on stealing and obtaining money by false pretence.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had, on May 18,
2016 re-arraigned Oronsaye, along with Osarenkhoe Afe, Fedrick
Hamilton Global Services Limited, Cluster Logistic Limited, Kangolo
Dynamic Cleaning Limited, and Drew Investment & Construction Company
Limited over alleged fraud and money laundering offences of about N1.2bn.
Osarenkhoe Afe, the second defendant in the charge had challenged
the admissibility of his statements made on February 24 and March 16,
2011, which the prosecution sought to tender, on the grounds that they
were not voluntarily given by him.
Arguing through his counsel, Oluwole Aladoye, the second defendant
told the court that he was coerced into signing a statement that was
dictated to him by the operatives of the EFCC.
He specifically said that one of the operatives, Mustapha Gadanya told
him to either sign the statements or he would be further detained and
his wife and other directors of his company will be arrested.
According to Afe, the EFCC denied him access to his lawyer when he was
writing the statements in question and urged the court not to accept
them in evidence as the statements were not obtained in accordance
with the Evidence Act.
The prosecution counsel, Olalekan Atolagbe, in his submission said Afe
volunteered the said statements without any form of duress and in
accordance with the Evidence Act.
This development made the court to order a trial within trial to
ascertain the voluntariness of the statements of the second defendant
obtained by the EFCC.
At the end of the trial, which commenced on June 25, 2016, the trial
Judge, Justice Kolawole agreed with the prosecution that the
statements of the second defendant were voluntarily given and
discovered in the course of the trial, the said statements can be
expunged from the record of the court.
The Judge then admitted the said statements as exhibits and adjourned
the matter till November 11, 2017 for the continuation of judicial
trial.
Earlier, the court granted the application by Orosanye seeking the
release of his international passport deposited with the court to
enable him travel abroad for medical attention.
“The application for the release of the international passport of the
first defendant, in a motion dated June 6, 2017 succeeds provided that
his counsel writes an undertaken that the first defendant shall return
the international passport back to the Deputy Registrar of the court
upon return from the medical leave”, the Judge held.
He ordered that the first defendant shall return on or before
September 30, 2017, when he is required to return back to the country
to face his trial.

Author: News Editor

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