The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday, attempted to enter into evidence a statement alleging that a witness in the ongoing trial of Gabriel Suswam, former Benue governor, was pressured into changing his statement.
At the resumed trial, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, (SAN) the lead prosecuting counsel told the Federal High Court, Abuja, that the fourth prosecution witness, Mr Abubakar Umar said he was coerced by Suswam’s team.
Jacobs read part of the statement where the witness said that he was under a lot of pressure from the people around Suswam to change his statement and was told he would be offered money if he did.
However, when Jacobs sought to tender the document as evidence, Suswam’s counsel, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN) objected to the admissibility of the document.
Daudu said the original statement, which was made in Hausa language before it was translated into English, ought to be tendered before the court.
He said it was only from the original statement made in Hausa that the true testimony of the witness could be deciphered.
Jacobs, however, argued that the grounds given by the defence for the inadmissibility of the document was not tenable.
“The claim that the documents we seek to tender was made in Hausa and what we seek to tender is the English version, is not true.
“The statement was written in English language and not in Hausa as alleged by the defence counsel.”
He said once a witness signed a statement he was said to be the maker of such statement.
Earlier, the witness, a Bureau De Change Operator, who spoke through an interpreter, reaffirmed how he helped the former governor change about N3.1 billion to 15.8 million dollars.
The EFCC had in 2017 declared Umar a ‘hostile witness’ saying he gave contradictory evidence in court outside the statement he made to the EFCC.
Umar, had in his statement to the EFCC said that he took the money to the governor in his residence in Maitama but had told the court that he took the money to the Government House in Makurdi, Benue.
When asked by Jacobs during cross examination to make clarification, he said that he took the money to the government house.
When asked where the government house was located he simply told the court that “wherever the governor resides is the government house”.
The judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed adjourned the matter until March 14 to rule on the admissibility of the statement and continuation of trial.
Suswam and his former Commissioner for Finance, Omadachi Oklobia are standing trial on a nine-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N3.1 billion.