Justice E.S Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday admitted as evidence, a compact disc, CD, tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to the effect that the statements of Imaobong Akon Esu-Nte, an accountant with the Nigeria Prison Service, and five others being prosecuted by the agency were voluntarily rendered.
Esu-Nte, Olukolade Olabamiji, a businessman; Mohammed Abdulkadir, a banker and their three companies- Royal Mall Nigeria Limited, Transferase Ventures, I.D Integrated Petroleum are standing trial on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery, abuse of office and money laundering.
The accused had through their counsel, Titus Ashaolu, SAN, challenged the admissibility of their statements tendered by the EFCC on the ground that they were not voluntarily obtained.
The trial-within-trial which commenced at the last sitting on October 6, saw the principal witness, Sini Omar, denying taking the statements of the accused persons under duress, even as he told the court that all the statements were given voluntarily and conducted in a professional manner.
At the resumed hearing, yesterday, Counsel to the EFCC, Larry Peters Aso, led another operative of the commission, Buhari Nuru Dalhatu, in evidence.
Dalhatu told the court that he was an operative attached to the Digital Forensic Unit of the Forensic Science Laboratory of the EFCC.
According to him, “the confessional statement of the first accused (Esu-Nte) was attested and while it was done, a decision was taken to record it using a galaxy tablet.”
He told the court that after the attestation was recorded, he was assigned to move it from the galaxy tablet to the laboratory computer and burnt it into a compact disc, so that it could be tendered before the court.
Buhari stated that the computer functions well and it is used for the day-to-day storage of all recorded or analysed data.
However, Ashaolu objected to the admissibility of the disc which he said failed to meet the conditions of Section 84(4) of the Evidence Act.
Responding, Aso stated that Section 84(4) of the Evidence Act cited by the defence counsel does not apply where the person who generated the document is called as a witness to lay a foundation for tendering of the document.
Justice Chukwu adjourned the case to December 8 for continuation of trial.