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Babachir Lawal’s trial: EFCC declares witness hostile

A mild drama occurred on Wednesday at the ongoing trial of a former Secretary of the Government of the Federation SGF, Babachir Lawal before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

At the resumed trial, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission declared its own witness, Aminu Alhaji Ahmed, who testified for the anti grant agency in the alleged N544million contract hostile.

The witness Ahmed, was declared hostile by the prosecuting counsel Mr Uket Ufem while giving his evidence in chief.

EFCC’S lawyer became uncomfortable with the lines of evidence of the witness and subsequently applied to the court to so declare him a hostile witness.

While giving his evidence, Ahmed told the court that the contract awarded to Rhilavision and Josmon Technologies Limited was a normal procurement process in which the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) gave the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE) the approval sought.

He told the court that approval for the contract to clear evasive grasses on rivers in Yobe State was obtained by the Initiative.

Trouble however started when the witness was confronted with Exhibit 5 earlier tendered before the court, and he confirmed that the approval was for emergency procurement process.

When asked by the prosecuting counsel to read the exhibit, the witness told the court that the document was not readable.

He informed the court that he was invited by the EFCC in November 2017 and was asked to make statement both orally and written, which he said he did.

At a point Chief Akin Olujimi SAN, counsel for Babachir Lawal, objected to the line of questioning by the EFCC lawyer, arguing that instead of leading him in evidence, the prosecuting counsel was cross examining the witness.

Angry Uket however became uncomfortable with the EFCC witness and applied to the court to declare him a hostile witness to enable him cross examine him which the court granted having not been opposed by the defendants’ lawyers.

When asked to confirm from Exhibit 5 the legality of the process of the contract award, Ahmed insisted that the approval given by BPP was for emergency procurement process.

After making a futile efforts to tender the witness’s statement made to the EFCC as an exhibit in the case, which Olujimi objected to, Uket withdrew same and out of anger applied to the court to expunge the witness’s evidence from the court’s record.

The trial judge, Justice Charles Agbaza granted EFCC’s application and expunged Ahmed’s evidence from the court’s record. He then adjourned further hearing in the case to December 15, 2021.

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