We took Chude Nnamdi’s statement in absence of lawyer, relative – Police witness
DSP Jeremiah Gbayan, the first prosecution witness in a criminal charge filed against Chude Nnamdi, a social media influencer, on alleged cyberstalking of business mogul, Emeka Offor, has admitted that neither the defendant’s lawyer nor his relative were present when his statement was taken.
Gbayan, a police officer attached to the Defence and Protection Unit at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, told Justice Gladys Olotu of a Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday while being cross-examined by Nnamdi’s counsel, Gabriel Chikwado-Eze.
Chikwado-Eze had asked the witness to confirm whether Nnamdi’s lawyer or any of his relatives were with him at the time he was moved from Anambra to Abuja up to the time he wrote a statement, but Gbayan said there was no one with him.
Gbayan, however, told the court that they gave him the opportunity to call his lawyer or any of his relatives on the phone before taking his statement but he refused.
“We gave him his phone to invite his lawyer or any relative which he declined and he equally put it in writing,” he said.
The News Agency Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nnamdi’s lawyer had opposed the admissibility of the statement allegedly written by Nnamdi on March 19 that Okoye sought to tender as evidence in the last adjourned date .
Chikwado-Eze argued that the statement was not voluntarily made by his client in accordance with the Evidence Act and the judge ordered a trail-within-trial.
Upon resumed hearing, Okoye informed the court that the matter was slated for trial-within-trial and that a witness was in court.
After Okoye’s examination-in-chief, Chikwado-Eze, during cross-examination, also asked Gbayan if he was at a meeting of the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police, Usman Alkali, with the nominal complainant, Offor, his wife and brother, Dr Valentine Ozigbo, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’ candidate in the last Anambra governorship poll, and Nnamdi, the defendant in the case.
The witness said he was not at the meeting.
The lawyer also asked him if he was among the team that arrested Nnamdi in Anambra and he responded in the negative.
“I do not know anything that happened between the team that arrested him and the defendant until he got to my office,” the witness also admitted.
Gbayan told the court that Nnamdi wrote the statement on March 19, the same day he was brought to Abuja.
“You are a police officer, do you have the video evidence of him while taking the statement?” the lawyer asked.
“Yes my lord, we do have video evidence,” he said.
“Is the video recording before this honourable court?” he asked.
“It is not here,” the witness responded.
Gbayan, who told the court that he was not the officer who took Nnamdi’s statement, also admitted that he did not know the conditions that made Nnamdi to be released on administrative bail by the police.
Justice Olotu adjourned the matter until June 14 for a continuation of trial-within-trial.
NAN reports that the police had, on April 20, arraigned Nnamdi for alleged cyberstalking Mr Offor but pleaded not guilty to the charge.
He was granted bail to the sum of N10 million with one surety in the like sum, who must be a level 14 civil servant or a resident of the FCT with verified landed property, as part of the bail conditions.
The I-G charged Nnamdi as the sole defendant in the case.
In the amended charge dated and filed on 17 April, the police alleged that Mr Nnamdi, on 13 March knowingly and intentionally sent a message through a tweet from his Twitter handle ‘Chude’ by means of computer system and network, thereby committing cyberstalking punishable under Section 24 (1)(b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) ACT, 2015.
NAN reports that Nnamdi was arrested in Anambra and transported to Abuja by officers attached to the police Cybercrime Unit.
The police later said the matter was linked to a tweet by Mr Nnamdi that allegedly cast Mr Offor, a billionaire businessman, in an odious light.
In the tweet, the defendant claimed that Mr Offor had been engaged by President Bola Tinubu to beg Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate, to accept the result of the Feb. 25 election.
The tweet read: “So @officialBAT called Emeka Offor to beg Peter Obi to accept the rigged result.
“If he is sure the people voted for APC and he won the election, why is he running around pleading with everyone to help beg Peter Obi to accept the result?”
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