Admit statement implicating CCT boss, Umar on bribery, EFCC tells Court
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Wednesday asked an Abuja High Court to admit as exhibit a statement which implicated the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Danladi Umar, in a N10million bribery scandal. The anti-graft agency insisted that the statement that implicated Umar was made by his personal assistant and protocol officer, Ali Gambo Abdullahi, on August 12, 2013, at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja, when the alleged bribe was paid into his account.
EFCC made its final submissions yesterday at the conclusion of trial-within-trial conducted by Justice Chizoba Oji, following the counter claim by Abdullahi that he implicated his boss in the N10million bribery issue under duress and inducement by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency in its written argument presented by its counsel, Andrew Akoja, informed Justice Oji that the CCT boss’ personal assistant was invited by the EFCC following a petition by a retired Customs Comptroller, Rasheed Taiwo Owolabi, that he channelled the bribe through the defendant to the CCT boss.
The counsel informed the court that the defendant freely visited the EFCC and voluntarily made the statement that the bribe money was benefited by Umar, and he was allowed home the same day. Akoja also said that defendant in his evidence in court never claimed that the bribe money was falsely or wrongly paid into his account by the Customs Comptroller in all the statements he made to the Commission.
The EFCC counsel argued that the retraction statement made much later by the accused to purportedly exonerate his boss was an afterthought that should not be given probate value by the court.
“All the witnesses of EFCC before this court testified to the fact that the statement of the accused was freely made in an open interrogation room. The accused alleged that he made the statement under duress and inducement for job but in spite of the fact that the burden and onus to prove his allegations shifted on his head, he has not called any witness or discharged the burden in any form.
“The accused never told this Honourable Court that he was tortured to make his statement. He never denied in this court that no money was paid into his account or even paid in error. A suspect who personally walks into EFCC to make statement and was allowed home the same day cannot be the same to claim that he was tortured, beaten, influenced or induced without evidence.
“It is on record that two directors from the tribunal came to the EFCC office to bail the accused when the need arose. Our position is that the statement was freely made, voluntarily made and it complied with the rules of the Evidence Act and we urge the court to admit it and reject the afterthought of the accused that the bribe money was paid to him to cater for his sick father.”
Counsel to the defendant, Mr. Francis Atta was scolded by the court for his failure to prepare a written argument since last June when the court ordered parties to do so.
Atta, however, adopted the testimony of the defendant as his argument and urged the court to hold that the statement was not freely made but done under duress and inducement. Justice Oji, after taking arguments, fixed February 13, 2017, to rule on the admissibility of the disputed statement.