Vital statement disappears in ex-AGF Idris N109bn fraud trial

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

From Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja

A queer twist was on Thursday added to the trial of a former Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris over allegations of N109 billion fraud at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as a vital statement he made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), and which was tendered before the court suddenly disappeared. And the queer part is that the statement was not only missing in the file of the EFCC, it also disappeared from the files of the court, and the defence team.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, the anti-graft agency through its counsel Mr Oluwaleke Atolagbe had kick-started trial within trial, following the denial by the ex- Accountant General that some of the statements he made to EFCC in respect of the N109 billion alleged fraud were made voluntary. Idris, who was re-arraigned last October had persistently alleged that the key statements proposed by the EFCC to be used against him in the alleged corruption charges were made under duress.

Following the allegation, Justice Halilu Yusuf had ordered a trial within trial to authenticate the claim.

Although, the EFCC had presented its witness, Mr Hayatudeen Suleiman, EFCC operative for examination on 13 different statements obtained from Idris, trouble however arose when it was discovered that a statement dated July 5, 2022, and said to be vital to the trial could not be found in the bundles of documents uploaded to the court by EFCC.

The trouble became worsened when EFCC seeking to examine the witness on the disputed statement could not find the statement in its own case file.

Ahmed Idris, ex Accountant General of the Federation

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Chris Uche, leading the legal team of the former Accountant General also told the court that the statement was not part of those supplied to him by EFCC.

Uche said that the anti-graft agency for reasons best known to it, had suppressed some documents and that the missing statement of the defendant may be one of the suppressed documents. “We came fully prepared for this case to be substantially dealt with but unfortunately, EFCC appears to be dragging us back by not putting its house in order. If it were a civil matter, I would have asked for a cost of N5M for our precious time wasted by the prosecution”.

Efforts by Justice Halilu Yusuf to salvage the situation were unsuccessful as the statement could also not be found in the court’s record.

At this point, the EFCC’s lawyer who insisted that the statement is vital to his case, applied to Justice Yusuf to grant him an adjournment to enable him search for the missing statement and serve on the defendant as required by law.

After consultations amongst lawyers Justice Yusuf fixed May 11, for continuation of trial within trial. The court made it clear that the adjournment was at the instance of the EFCC.

EFCC had on October 27, 2022 re-arraigned Idris on a 13 count charge bordering on alleged misappropriation of the sum of N109 billion. Others arraigned alongside are Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Usman and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited. They were first arraigned on July 22, 2022, before a vacation judge, Adeyemi Ajayi.

The EFCC alleged that between February and December, 2021 Idris accepted from Akindele, a gratification of N15. 1 billion, which sum was as a motive for accelerating the payment of 13 per cent derivation to the nine oil producing sates in the Federation, through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that N84. 3billion from the Federal Government’s account was converted by the first and second defendants between February and November. 2021.

The EFCC said the offence contravened sections 155 and 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

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