A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Tunde Adeniyi David, yesterday told Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos that former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, was not a signatory to Government House Account while his administration lasted.
He made the disclosure while being cross-examined by Kalu’s lawyer, Goddy Uche (SAN) in the on-going trial of the former governor and two others over alleged fraud. Responding to a question from the silk, the witness said: “There is nowhere in the statements of account where Orji Uzor Kalu’s name was mentioned.
“Orji Uzor Kalu’s name does not also feature on the mandate card as one of the signatories to the account. “In the statements of account, there were no debit in respect of purchase of drafts, but there were debits in respect of withdrawals. “I never served as an account officer to the government house, and I never participated in feeding the information supplied on the statements of account to the computer.
“Most of the transactions also took place in Umuahia. The statements of account of the government house were printed from the data base of Umuahia domiciled in our server.” While being cross-examined by the second defendant’s lawyer, Solo Akuma (SAN), the witness noted that since the Government House Account is an operation account, it might be used to run the business of Abia State Government.
He had earlier revealed, while being examined by the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) that the statement of account of the government house was opened at the defunct Citizens Bank. Further hearing in the trial has been adjourned to June 5. The judge had, at the last hearing of the matter, directed the EFCC to ensure proper service of all documents it intends to use in the prosecution of the case on the defendants.
The directive was sequel to the objections raised by the defendants’ lawyers to the admissibility of a document sought to be tendered by the EFCC’s lawyer, Jacobs, as exhibit. Jacobs had, in the course of examining the third prosecution witness, Tunde Adeniyi David, tendered the statements of account of Abia State Government House and urged the court to admit same as exhibits.
This move was, however, objected to by the defence lawyers on the ground that the document was different from what was front-loaded by the prosecution in the proof of evidence. In his submissions, Kalu’s lawyer, Uche (SAN) said it was wrong for the prosecution to seek to tender a document that was never made available to the defence.
“The documents being shown to us were not frontloaded. They are totally different from what was front-loaded in the proof of evidence. We are totally taken by surprise this morning. The documents were only made yesterday,” he said.
The silk urged the court to adjourn the matter to allow the defence study the documents after they might have been properly served on it by the prosecution. Lawyer to the second defendant, Akuma (SAN), however, urged the court to reject the documents over the failure of the prosecution to comply with Section 379 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) which mandates the front-loading of all documents it intends to rely on in a criminal trial. “My submission is that this document is being produced for the first time today. It is mandatory that we must have an advanced copy of all the documents to be used by the prosecution.
“We, therefore, urged the court to reject the documents owing to the failure of the prosecution to frontload it in the proof of evidence,” he said. Akuma’s position was also corroborated by the third defendant’s lawyer, K. C. Nwofo (SAN). In his ruling on the contentious issue, Justice Idris held that having not been earlier front-loaded; the document is not yet admissible.
“In line with the provisions of Section 379 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), a proof of evidence must contain all documents to be relied upon by the prosecution in a criminal trial.
“There is no doubt that the documents sought to be tendered is not in the proof of evidence. These documents cannot be admitted at this stage. “In the interest of justice, the prosecution is directed to make the documents available to the defence to enable it to study it,” the judge held.