Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, sitting at the Federal High Court, Lagos, Wednesday, admitted five extra judicial statements of a witness, Bashir Garba, in the on-going trial of Abdullahi Babalele, said to be son-in-law of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Comission (EFCC) alleged that Babalele laundered about $140,000 dollars, in the build-up to the last general elections. He however pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum.
On Tuesday, prosecution opened its case and called its first witness, Mr Bashir Garba, a clearing agent and friend to the defendant.
In his evidence the witness had testified on how he delivered the naira equivalent of the sum of 140,000 dollars to the home of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, following the defendant’s instructions.
But, under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, the defendant affirmed that he wrote statements at the EFCC’s office during investigation.
When Ozekhome sought to tender one of his statements as an exhibit, prosecution raised objection on the tendering and admissibility of an extra judicial statement of a witness, citing the case of Okeke Vs State.
In his ruling on Wednesday, Justice Aneke, agreed with the submission of prosecution on the admissibility of such document, with an addendum that same could only be admissible, where proper foundation is laid.
The court then held that the defence was at liberty to lay the required foundation, if it so desired.
After the court’s ruling, Defence counsel (Ozekhome), then commenced cross examination of the witness, so as to lay the proper foundation as required by law.
Ozekhome outlined the various statements identified by the witness as made to the EFCC as: March 11, March 13, March 18 , March 29 and April 1 and then asked the witness if he maintains this position.
The witness replied, Yes, and also confirmed that he made the statements honestly and was not compelled by the commission to do so.
When asked if he made the statements first hand when the incident was still fresh and wanted same to be adopted as his, the witness replied in the affirmative.
When reminded that he had told the court in his evidence that he received the sum of N50.4million from the defendant for onward transmission to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his Ota home, he also replied in the affirmative.
Trial will continue on Jan. 29 and 30 and Feb.12 and 13, 2020.