Suswam’s Trial: Judge to rule on fresh exhibit March 14

Nigerian Concord

Justice Ramalan Muhammad this evening fixed March 14 for the ruling over a fresh controversial exhibit brought before his court by the EFCC against former governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue state.

The controversial exhibit which was claimed by the defense team to have been fraudulently extracted from the prosecution witness after being declared hostile by the same judge was debated for more than four hours on the basis that it was not made and signed by the witness but by his brother-in-law, Mr. Idris Yakubu.

The fresh document which was tendered before the court by the lead prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, as an exhibit stated that the prosecution witness, having being declared hostile, was invited for another interrogative session by the agency where he said that he changed his original statement before the court to favour Suswam as a result of the phone calls he was receiving from those close to the former governor, though the witness told the court that he had no knowledge of the said statement.

Earlier, during the cross examination by Rotimi Jacobs, the EFCC’s principal witness who is a director of a Bureau De Change In Abuja explained to the court that he was not the one that gave the Rio Negro address of Dr. Suswam to the EFCC as claimed that he said in one of a statement presented in court today.

The witness who spoke through a court interpreter also made it known that it was the EFCC interrogators that wrote the address in the said statement and presented it as if he wrote it.

Furthermore, the witness said, while he was asked to confirm four of his statements before the court today, that the signature therein belongs to him but emphatically stated that he was not the one who wrote the four statements, adding that the EFCC interrogators did not even read any of the statements to him so he could understand them very well before he was asked to append his signature on them.

In his submission, the lead defense counsel, J. B. Daodu, urged the court not to accept one of the statements because it was not prepared in the language, Hausa, which the witness understands.

He also said that the court should render the statement inadmissible because it was a fresh element that had nothing to do with the previous statements of the witness.

Barrister Daodu also based his argument on the fact that everything contained in the said statement was not understood by the witness because of the language used.

He wondered why the EFCC deviated from an earlier ruling by the judge that the agency must base its re-examination on previous statements made by the witness without bringing new things which the agency now wrote on a ‘mere’ sheet of paper and called a statement.

Also addressing the court, another defense counsel, Barrister Onoja, urged the court to reject the statement because the conditions which its maker, Idris Yakubu who is a brother-in-law to the principal witness, could not be provided in court by the EFCC were not met.