Emefiele's lawyer tackles EFCC over ambush, withholding of evidence

Godwin Emefiele

Ex-CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

Olalekan Ojo (SAN), lawyer to the former governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has criticized the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over its approach to prosecution of the defendant over an alleged gratifications, abuse of office and others.

The lawyer who is representing Emefiele in his trial before Justice Rahman Oshodi of the Lagos State High Court, (Special Offence), Ikeja, expressed his displeasure while seeking for adjournment at the resumed hearing of the matter on Friday.

Emefiele is currently standing trial before the court on a 23-count charge bordering on abuse of office, accepting gratifications, corrupt demand and others slammed on him and one other by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Emefiele’s co-defendant, Isioma-Omoile was also docked on three-count charge, but the defendants however pleaded not guilty to the charge.

At the proceeding on Friday, the defendant’s criticism of EFCC approach to prosecution was sequel to the new prove of evidence served on them by the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo.

At the last hearing of the case, the court had fixed May 3, (Friday) for the continuation of cross examination of the prosecution’s second witness, John Ayoh.

However, at the resumed hearing yesterday, the prosecutor, Oyedepo served another fresh proof of evidence on the defendants which made them to seek for adjournment of the case.

Ojo informed the court that the prosecution had filed an additional proof of evidence and he needed enough time to go through it.

Ojo argued that Emefiele had not seen the document and that justice rushed was justice crushed.

According to him: “I am constraint at this point to ask your lordship to do justice, the proof must be served early enough.

“Defence may find anything useful in the additional proof of evidence to cross-examine the witness in the box.

“I humbly urge to court to adjourn this matter so that I can thoroughly go through it and study it.”

The second defendant’s counsel, Mr Adeyinka Kotoye (SAN) also aligned himself with the submission of the first defence counsel.

Kotoye argued that it was only in this part of the world that prosecution would be conducting investigation while case was already ongoing in court.

He, therefore, urged the court to adjourn the case in the interest of justice and adequate opportunity to study the additional proof of evidence.

“I urge your lordship not to entertain this trial by ambush and put a stop to it. I also apply your lordship mandate the prosecution to supply us all relevant materials.

“Therefore, on the spirit of fairness, I urge your lordship to adjourn the case,” Kotoye said.

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The EFCC prosecutor, Oyedepo in his reply, informed the court that the second prosecution witness was in court for the continuation of cross-examination and that he had served defence the statement of one Mr John Adetola, as an additional proof of evidence.

Oyedepo, while opposing the submissions of the two defence counsel, prayed the court for the continuation of the cross-examination of the second prosecution witness.

He said it was unfair for a Senior Advocate of Nigeria whom he owed in high esteem to describe his team and its activities as prosecutorial unfairness.

According to him, Adeola was a 5th prosecution witness in the proof of evidence.

Oyedepo said Adetola’s statement was contained in volume two of what was served on defence on April 4.

He said: “In preparation for his testimony that will be coming up not today, not even on May 9, the prosecution, rather than wait for defence to formally place a demand on us on what is in the device, diligence prosecution made me make the device available to defence.

“My lord, how does that amount to prosecutorial unfairness?

“I plead with defence not to delay this case unnecessarily as we have a witness in the box who had given evidence and he is being cross-examined by the first defence counsel.

“If defence is angry that I served them the proof of evidence today, we can withdraw it and serve same later day.”

The prosecution told the court that the society is interested and watching the proceeding of the case.

“The society is interested, they are watching us, that will this matter be adjourned based on the evidence of another man who is not the witness in the box?

“We are not rushing or crushing justice, rather, we are aiding the oil of justice to rise steadily.

“Expeditious determination of case is of utmost importance and so we urge your lordship to allow the cross-examination.” Oyedepo said.

After listening to both parties, the trial judge, Justice Oshodi adjourned the trial till May 9 for the defence to study the additional proof of evidence served on them by the prosecution.

Justice Oshodi, in his short ruling, said he had considered the submissions of both parties and he was satisfied with the reasons given by defence for adjournment

He said: “I have considered the conflicting submissions regarding whether I should adjourn for further continuation of trial. I am satisfied with the reasons given by defence. For the adjournment sought, I grant it. I Adjourn until May 9 for continuation of trial.”

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