Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of a Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, Maitama, has held that the statements obtained from Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for an alleged N24 billion fraud, were obtained from her voluntarily.
Onyegbula is standing trial along with Esai Dangabar, a former director at the Police Pension Office, for their complicity in the alleged fraud in the Police Pension Office.
They are standing trial along with Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Sani Habila Zira, Uzoma Cyril Attang and Christian Madubuke.
Counsel for Onyegbula, Ernest Ikeji had in the course of trial, objected to the application of the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, to tender her statements dated February 13, 15, and 17, 2012, and May 2, 2102.
Ikeji had argued that the statements of Onyegbula, a former cashier in the Pension office, were made “involuntarily” by the witness, and so could not be tendered in court. The objection thus necessitated the need for a trial-within-trial.
In proving its case, the prosecution called three witnesses, including Onyegbula, who is the fourth defendant in the substantive case.
Ruling on the voluntariness or otherwise of the statement, at the end of the trial-within-trial on April 3, 2019, Justice Baba-Yusuf, admitted Onyegbula’s statements made to the EFCC in the course of investigations, and held that she did not substantiate her claim that she offered the statements under duress.
“I have considered the evidence on both sides and their written addresses, the fourth defendant has not been able to sustain her allegation of inducements, torture or threat,” the trial judge held.
Justice Baba-Yusuf, thereafter, adjourned to May 21 and 27, 2019 for “continuation of hearing”.