Alleged N109bn fraud: Ex-AGF, Ahmed Idris kicks as EFCC tenders video evidence

Ogunsakin Mustapha
5 Min Read
Ahmed Idris, ex Accountant General of the Federation

A former Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, through his lawyer kicked as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) sought to tender a compact disc of the interview session operatives had with him and others when the prosecution sought to tender the disc in court on Thursday.

The disc, tendered by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs SAN, through the prosecution first witness (PW1) in the trial-within-trial in the ongoing trial of Idris and three others for an alleged fraud.

The trial-within-trial was ordered by the court following the objection raised by counsel for Idris, Chief Chris Uche SAN on the ground that his client’s statements the prosecution sought to tender were not made voluntarily.

The former Accountant-General of the Federation alongside Geoffrey Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Kudu Usman and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited, are standing trial on a 14-count charge bordering on stealing, fraudulent diversion of public fund to the tune of N109.5 billion.

They were brought before Justice Yusuf Halilu, sitting at Maitama, Abuja, by EFCC, on behalf of the Federal Government in the case marked, CR/199/2022. The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, the EFCC witness, Hayatudeen Sulaiman Ahmed, informed that the investigating team recorded the interview session it had with Idris, Akindele and Usman.

When the prosecutor sought to tender the video recording, Idris’s counsel vehemently opposed the tendering if the disc, saying that it amounted to ambush of the defence.

“We vehemently oppose to the strategy of springing this video on the defendants. The witness said the video was recorded on 25th May, 2022, almost three years ago.

“By constitutional provision, the defendants ought to have been served this to enable them prepare their defence,” the senior advocate said, adding that he was only served the video on Wednesday and was not able to view it before coming to court.

Counsels for other defendants aligned their objections with Uche’s with counsel for Akindele describing it as “a strange bird from a whirlwind”.

Despite the objections, Justice Halulu admitted the video and marked same as an exhibit in the trial-with-trial, following which it was played in the open court.

The witness then told the court that there was no deception on the part of investigators while taking statements from the former AGF.

According to him, the video made after investigation established that the first to third defendants benefitted from non-existent consultancy from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

Under cross examination by Uche, the witness said lawyers of the three defendants were not present when investigators interviewed them on May 25, 2022.

He admitted that Idris made some of his statements to EFCC in the absence of his lawyer, one Gbenga Adeyemi, while some when made in the presence of the lawyer.

The witness further admitted that apart from the interview session with the three defendants that was recorded, there was no video recording of the other statements made by Idris.

According to him, “There are no video for other statements made by the first defendant, there were only witnesses.

“We don’t bring suspects together in taking their statements; it’s only done for interview. We didn’t tell them we were recording the video. There was no lawyer for any of the defendants during the recording of the video.”

Ahmed told the court that he could not remember how many statements the first defendant made to EFCC, though he was involved in taking the statements.

Meanwhile, while adjourning the trial with trial to March 20, Justice Halilu set aside the court’s order revoking the bail granted Akindele.

This followed an application made to that effect by counsel for Akindele, Joe Abraham SAN, informing the court that the second defendant was not in court at the last sitting as of the time the case was called because he was held up in traffic but eventually made it to court that day.

The prosecutor was, however, not against the application.

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