The trial commenced yesterday with the presentation of the 5th Prosecution Witness, Celestine Idiaye, who is the Cluster Control Manager with the Internal Control Unit of Diamond Bank Plc, Garki branch in Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Prosecution through its Counsel, Adebisi Adeniyi and Leke Atolagbe, sought to present more exhibits against the defendants through the witness.
The accused are standing trial before Justice E. Chukwu in a 37-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N29 billion preferred against them by the EFCC.
The Defendants were alleged to have between 2011 and 2013, at various times, used five companies- Blue Opal Nigeria Limited, Serore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Towers Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited to commit the fraud.
Idiaye, led in evidence by Atolagbe, told the court that the bank received a letter dated September 23, 2014 from the EFCC requesting for account opening documents and statement of account in respect of Sentinel Exploration and Production Limited, a company linked to Nyako.
He said the bank responded with a letter dated September 30, 2014 and provided two statements of account, account opening documents and certificate of identification.
He added that at the time of producing the said documents, the bank’s computer systems “were in perfect condition and we compared them with what we have in our database and they were the same.”
The forwarding letter from the bank, to which was attached the various documents, were presented in court and were identified by Idiaye as the documents from the bank forwarded to the EFCC.
Counsel to Aliyu, Y. C. Maikyau (SAN), however, questioned the admissibility of the documents by the court, saying though he had no objection to the forwarding letter, the documents attached, including photocopies, were by their nature public documents that needed to be certified by the public officer who has custody of the original copies.
He argued that the photocopy of the international passport in the document ought to have been certified by an official of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the photocopy of the certificate of incorporation of the company ought to have been certified by an official of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“The requirements for certifying a pubic document, according to Section 104 of the Evidence Act 2011, was not met, as it relates to the cited documents,” Maikyau argued.
Counsel to the 4th and 8th Defendants, Ibrahim Isiyaku (SAN), Counsel to the 5th Defendant, Olumide Olujimi and Counsel to the 9th Defendant, O. A. Dada, all aligned themselves with Maikyau’s argument.
Prosecution Counsel, Adeniyi, argued in response that the points canvassed by the defence team were misplaced, saying: “The position of the law is that documents attached to the letter, which has not been opposed to by the defence, must be admitted as a whole.”
According to him, what they sought to tender through the Witness was the letter sent to the EFCC from Diamond Bank, which has not been opposed to by the defence.
He added: “What we have before your lordship is a statement of account and we are not in an era of ledger and a statement of account is in its original form that was printed from the computer server.”
He, therefore, urged the court to “discountenance the objection and reject the attempt to sever the attached documents from the letter, which ought to be admitted as a whole.”
Justice Chukwu, after taking note of all the arguments, thereafter adjourned till May 6, this year for ruling on the admissibility of the documents and continuation of trial.