Atewe’s trial: Prosecution witness says statement not under duress
Mrs Modupe Jimoh, an EFCC witness, on Wednesday at a Federal High Court, Lagos, denied retrieving forcefully a statement in connection with a N8.5 billion fraud charge from Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Atewe, a former military commander of the Niger-Delta Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation “Pulo Shield’’, is standing trial alongside Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the alleged fraud.
Also standing trial are two other staffers of the Agency — Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga.
They are facing an amended 22-count charge bordering on the alleged N8.5 billion fraud.
The prosecution had opened its case in February 2017 and had called its first witness, Mr Nkem Ahidjo, an operative of EFCC.
In the course of the trial, the defence had raised objection to the tendering of the statement made by ex-JTF commander on the grounds that same was not obtained voluntarily.
Justice Ayokunle Faji had then ordered a trial-within-trial to test the voluntariness of the statement of the accused.
At the resumption of the trial-within-trial on Wednesday, the defence team concluded the cross- examination of a prosecution witness, Mr Adamu Yusuf, with the witness denying forceful retrieval of the statement.
Jimoh, an operative of the EFCC in her fresh testimony, denied Atewe’s claim that his statement was made under duress.
She affirmed that she knew the accused, (Atewe) whom she said featured in an investigation by the commission.
She said the commission had received intelligence that NIMASA transferred the sum of N8 billion and some fractions to the account of JTF operation Pulo Shield.
“The commission had sent an invitation to the defendant (Atewe) which he honoured on May 16, 2016.
“When he came in, we showed him facts and documents found in the course of our investigation and he told us that he had things to say in his defence which he volunteered to put down in writing.
“So, I cautioned him before he started writing in the presence of my colleagues, Adamu Yusuf and Boniface Uzoechi.
“We later read it out to him that he is not obliged to say anything except he wishes to do so.
“In response, he said he understood and he told the commission that he would like to volunteer additional statements; he was again cautioned and this took place in the presence of my colleagues, Adamu and Boniface,’’ she said.
On whether the accused was oppressed, threatened or assaulted in the course of volunteering his statement, the witness said it was not true.
She explained that the commission was governed by three core values of courage, integrity and professionalism, adding that the operatives were properly trained to respect suspects of anti-graft crimes.
The judge adjourned further hearing on the trial-within-trial until March 6.
The defendants were alleged to have conspired to divert N8.5 billion from Operation Pulo Shield between Sept. 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015.
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