Justice E.S Chukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 admitted as evidence, a compact disc (CD) tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to the effect that the statements of Imaobong Akon Esu-Nte, an accountant with the Nigeria Prison Service and five others being prosecuted by the agency were voluntarily rendered.
Esu-Nte (Alias Imaobong Akon Esu-Nte); Olukolade Olabamiji, a Businessman; Mohammed Abdulkadir, a banker and their three companies- Royal Mall Nigeria Limited, Transferase Ventures, I.D Integrated Petroleum are standing trial on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery, abuse of office and money laundering.
The accused had through their counsel, Titus O. Ashaolu, SAN, challenged the admissibility of their statements tendered by the EFCC on the ground that, the statements were not voluntarily obtained.
The trial-within-trial which commenced at the last sitting, October 6, 2015 saw the principal witness Sini Omar denying taking the statements of the accused persons under duress as he told the court that, all the statements were given voluntarily and conducted in aprofessional manner.
At the resumed hearing , counsel to EFCC, Larry Peters Aso, led another operative of the Commission, Buhari Nuru Dalhatu, in evidence.
Dalhatu, told the court that, he was an operative attached to the Digital Forensic Unit of the Forensic Science Laboratory of EFCC.
According to him, “the confessional statement of the first accused (Esu-Nte) was attested and while it was done, a decision was taken to record the attestation using a galaxy tablet”.
He told the court that, after the attestation was recorded, he was assigned to move it from the galaxy tablet to the laboratory computer and burnt it into a compact disc in order that, it could be tendered before the court.
Buhari further stated that, the computer functions adequately well and that, it is used for day-to-day storage of all recorded or analyzed data.
However, Ashaolu, SAN, objected to the admissibility of the disc which he said, failed to meet the conditions of Section 84(4) of the Evidence Act.
He argued that, “it is required that a certificate be produced to certify the type of computer used, how and where it was produced, the serial number, and the brand.
All must be contained in the certification before the CD can be tendered”.
He urged the court to reject it for failure to meet the conditions precedent for its admissibility.
Responding, Aso stated that section 84(4) of Evidence Act cited by the defence does not apply where the person who generated the document is called as a witness to lay a foundation for tendering of the document.
He argued that, the witness has complied with the provisions of Section 84(2) of the Evidence Act adding that, the essence of tendering the compact Disc (CD) is to show that the accused statements were voluntary.
Also testifying, Friday Ebelo, an operative of the EFCC, stated that, he came across the accused when he was called by Sini Omar to attest to the confessional statement of the first accused which was taken on May 8,2014 at 1400Hours.
Ebelo told the court that, the first accused, Esu-Nte’s statement was voluntarily rendered without any form of harassment, intimidation or duress as the statement was done in his presence and one of her counsel from Ashaolu’s chambers.
The attestation was tendered and admitted in evidence as PW2a.
Justice Chukwu has adjourned the case to December 8, 2015 for continuation of trial.