The trial of Col. Nicholas Ashinze and three others at the Federal High Court in Abuja, was Thursday brought to an abruptly end.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Ashinze, a former aide of Sambo Dasuki, alongside Wolfgang Reinl, who is an Austrian, Edidiong Idiong and Sagir Mohammed, on a 13-count charge of corruption and money laundering.
They allegedly diverted money from the office of the former NSA.
The prosecuting counsel, Ofem Uket, was leading the first prosecution witness, Hassan Seidu, when he sought to tender some documents as exhibit.
However, counsel to the first defendant, Ernest Nwoye, objected to the admissibility of the documents on the ground that they were not part of proof of evidence as the Administration of Justice Act abhors surprises in a criminal trial.
He argued also that the prescribed fee for such documents was not paid, neither were they stamped.
Nwoye noted: “Contrary to the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which abhors surprises especially in crimes trial, they were not part of the proof of evidence.
Section 124 of the evidence act in respect to certification of payment of levy fee was not also meant. The documents do not have evidence of payment for the approved levy.
“The documents have no name as to the officer who certified it, no signature of the certifier.
“It has no evidence of payment as prescribed by Ministry of Trade
“The documents fail to meet provisions of Supreme Court decision on such matter, for a document to be admitted in court it must comfort to the law”, he held
Counsel to the second and third defendants aligned themselves with the submission of Nwoye.
Third defence counsel, Ukwudili Anozie said non availability of the documents to a defendant in a criminal trial constitutes infraction to the fundamental human rights of the defendant.
However, counsel to the fourth defendant, O. Jimoh admitted having been be served with the said documents
.He picked holes, saying the documents were marred with irregularity and alterations. Jimoh posited that the covering letter of the documents was a photocopy and not original copy.
He said the copies are not certified and that their were many alterations contain in the documents that cannot stand the test of law.
He said “International” in many instance crossed with a pen and “Continental” was super imposed.
“The original copy contains Unity International but was crushed and continental imposed. In several instances they were signed with a signature nobody knows the owner. In some other pages they forget to crush the continental. The documents cannot stand in the face of lawyer, ” he said.
Uket, however, when confronted with the glaring inadequacies the documents contained tactically sought to withdraw them.
In the face of this, the trial Judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, adjourned the matter till June 12 for continuation of the testimony of prosecution witness.