A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, fixed July 18 for ruling in the trial-within-trial of the money laundering suit filed by the EFCC against Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and seven others.
Other defendants in the criminal charge include A Group Construction Company Limited; Rocky Top Resources Limited; Megatech Engineering Limited; Novel Properties and Development Company Limited listed as 2nd to 5th defendants respectively.
They also include Imperial Union Limited; Carlin International Nigeria Limited and the oil mogul, Mr Aliyu Abubakar, listed as 6th to 8th defendants respectively in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/268/16.
Trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, fixed the date after EFCC’s counsel, Offem Uket, and lawyer to the Abubakar (8th defendant), Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, adopted their written addresses in the matter.
In another criminal charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/39/17 filed by EFCC against Mohammed Adoke, the former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, and Abubakar, who are 1st and 2nd defendants, Justice Ekwo fixed July 17 for ruling in the trial-within-trial after Uket and Olanipekun had re-adopted their written addresses in defence of their case.
Abubakar, a businessman, had alleged that in the course of his investigation by the EFCC, he made extra-judicial statements under duress and was also induced to implicate others.
The development made the court to order a trial-within-trial in the suit number: FHC/ABJ/CR/39/17 filed against Adoke and Abubakar, and the proceeding was completed and the matter earlier fixed for ruling.
But upon resumed hearing in the matter against Malabu Oil and others on July 20, 2022, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th defendants objected through their respective counsel to the admissibility of the seven extra-judicial statements made by Abubakar (8th defendant) on Aug . 8, 2015; Nov. 30, 2015; Jan. 6, 2016; Jan. 17, 2016; Dec. 31, 2019; Jan. 6, 2020 and Jan. 25, 2020 respectively which the prosecution sought to tender in the course of examination-in-chief of prosecution witness A (PWA), Ibrahim Ahmed, in the substantive case.
They objected to the admissibility of the documents on the ground of violation of the Evidence Act and provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and the judge also ordered a trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness or otherwise of the seven statements made by Abubakar.
Justice Ekwo then suspended the earlier ruling date on the suit number: FHC/ABJ/CR/39/17 since Olanipekun and Uket agreed to adopt proceedings in the trial-within-trial for the matter against Malabu and others.
Olanipekun informed that he had discussed with Uket on adoption of the proceeding in the trial-within-trial in the sister case since the main defendant in the two cases was Abubakar, his client.
The senior lawyer said the decision was in compliance with Section 46 of the Evidence Act.
The anti-graft agency’s lawyer confirmed Olanipekun’s submission.
Uket, therefore, agreed to adopt the proceeding in the sister case and call the remaining witness to speak on the statement written.
In the written address filed on June 23 in respect of the trial-within-trial in Malabu case, the EFCC submitted that Abubakar voluntary and freely made all the statements in the presence of his lawyers, comprising Audu Ameh, Peter Ayu and Yusuf Ahmed, who is a retired deputy commissioner of police.
The commission had called three witnesses in the trial-within-trial, who stated that they were part of the team that recorded the seven statements from Abubakar at the executive chairman’s conference hall, Wuse Il, Abuja.
The agency prayed the court to uphold its submission and dismiss Abubakar’s allegations.