The trial of a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke over alleged money laundering was stalled on Tuesday after an unknown witness was presented to testify in the matter.
Following the re-arraignment of Adoke and an Abuja-based businessman, Aliyu Abubakar on July 4, 2020, on a 14-count amended charge, marked: FHC/ABJ/93/39/2017, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja scheduled trial for August 11.
When the matter resumed as scheduled, the lead prosecuting counsel, Bala Sanga presented one Clement Osagie from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as his first prosecution witness.
But as soon as Osagie mounted the witness box, lawyer to Abubakar, Olalekan Ojo (SAN) challenged the witness’ competence, saying that he was unknown to his client as a witness of the EFCC in the trial.
Ojo asked the court to look at the charge and proof of evidence that the prosecution did not list the names of its witnesses and attach a summary of their statements as required by law.
Citing Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), he said that the prosecution was required, under the law, to supply the names and other particulars of its witnesses to the defendants to enable them to prepare their defence adequately.
Further noting that fair trial required that the defendants knew those that would testify against them in a criminal trial to avoid being caught unaware, Ojo urged the court to compel the prosecution to do the needful before the trial could commence.
Sanga, in his response, told the court that he got to know about the witness only Monday evening. He accepted Ojo’s argument and prayed the court for a short adjournment to enable the EFCC to comply with the provision of law.
When the other defendant did not object to the request for a short adjournment, Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter till August 13, 2020, for trial.
The trial judge, then, ordered the prosecution to serve the defendants with all the particulars, processes that they are entitled to within 24 hours.
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