By Michael Ojo

A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday discountenanced the claims of Ondo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman Clement Fagboyede and Modupe Adetokunbo that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) compelled them to make statements under duress during interrogation at its Lagos office in 2016.

In his ruling on a trial within trial to establish the claims or otherwise of the defendants, Justice Saliu Saidu upheld the EFCC’s submission controverting the defendants’ claims.

He held that from the evidence before the court, claims of coercion were unproven.

Justice Saidu said: “There is nothing in both statements that the defendants were coerced or were under duress in making the statements or that the writing of the statements was hinged on the refund payments made by the defendants.

“The defendants had the opportunity to have challenged the refund payments demanded by the prosecution in court, if they were actually coerced or under duress in making the payments.

“This court is satisfied that the defendants were not compelled to make the statements under threat or duress and as such, I allow the prosecution to tender the both statements with their attachment that are marked Exhibit FC 1 and FC 2 in this case.

“This is the ruling of the court”.

Fogboyede and Adetokunbo were arraigned by the anti-graft agency on a three-count charge dated June 5, 2018.

The EFCC accused them of conspiracy, accepting and making cash payment of the sum of N500million without going through financial institutions, contrary to the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011(as amended 2012).

Both defendants pleaded not guilty and are out on bail.

In the course of the trial, the prosecution sought to tender the defendants’ statements in evidence.

But the defence counsel objected to the admissibility of the said statements, following which the court ordered a trial within trial to resolve the issue.