The Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned till November 21 further proceedings in the trial of a former Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA), Haruna Baba Jauro, and two others.
Jauro, alongside Dr Dauda Bitrus Bawa and a company, Thlumbau Enterprises Limited, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 19-count charges bordering on stealing and money laundering to the tune of N304,118,500.
At Monday’s proceedings, the third prosecution witness, PW3, Orji Chukwuma, an investigator with the EFCC, told the court that he met the defendant when was the head of the agency’s Special Task Force 3 in Lagos.
Chukwuma told the court that objections were also taken in respect to the admissibility of the statements of the defendant before Honourable Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.
When asked by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, if he also recalled that the said statements of the first defendant were also admitted as evidence and marked as exhibits Q,, Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 at the end of trial-within-trial previously before Justice Olatoregun, the witness answered in the affirmative.
Oyedepo consequently sought to tender in evidence the proceedings of the trial-within-trial before Justice Olatoregun that were admitted and marked as exhibits, including the statements of the first defendant made on January 28, 2016; October 12, 2015; March 17, 2016 and March 24, 2016.
Ojo told the court that he had no objection to the statements marked as exhibits in the trial-within-trial being tendered.
Justice Ringim, therefore, admitted and marked the statements as exhibits Twt1 to Twt5.
When Oyedepo asked the witness his response to the accusations by the first defendant that his statements were not obtained voluntarily, he said the environment in which the statements were taken was very conducive, adding that “it was in a big conference hall. He sat around an oval conference. It is a public space and anyone can come in at any time. No arms were carried into the conference hall.”
“We were both in the company of people, including the defendant’s people and my own team members. Before taking his statements, cautionary words were administered to the defendant. To show his understanding, his signature and date were put down at the beginning and also at the end of his statements. The statement the defendant made in 2015 was made at the comfort of his office in NIMASA,” Orji said.
When asked by the prosecution counsel to look at exhibits T1 -T5 and also show the court the cautionary words, the witness read out all the cautionary words written in the statements to the court. He also showed the court where the defendant put his name and signature on all the statements in agreement that he had been cautioned.
“At the end of the statement is the endorsement report given to the investigation team. It carries the attestations summary. It is the practice to put the endorsement on the part where there are spaces. The statement was not made under duress and was admitted before Justice Olatoregun,” the witness said.
Justice Tijani Ringim adjourned to November 21 and 22 for continuation of the trial.
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