By TAIYE AGBAJE
ABUJA- Mr Aliyu Abubakar, a defence witness in the trial-within-trial of the former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke told a Federal High Court, Abuja that an EFCC officer threatened him to indict former President Goodluck Jonathan in alleged money laundering.
Abubakar, who is also a co-defendant in the suit, told Justice Inyang Ekwo while being led in evidence by his counsel, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, that the officer, Mr Bala Sanga, also threatened him to indict the minister.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Adoke was the Minister of Justice during President Jonathan’s administration between April 6, 2010 and April 29, 2015.
NAN also reports that Aminu Lawal, the second prosecution witness in the trial-within-trial, had, on May 10, said that Abubakar was neither enforced to make statements nor induced to implicate others in the course of the investigation, and that he was never threatened to be detained.
Lawal was part of the investigators who took the defendant’s statements on Dec. 31, 2019 and on Jan. 6, 2020.
But at the resumed trial on Tuesday, Abubakar, a business mogul, told the judge that the extra-judicial statements he made on Dec. 31, 2019 and on Jan. 6, 2020 were not made voluntarily.
He said on Dec. 31, 2019 when he was invited to the EFCC’s office, Sanga, threatened to detain him if he refused to make extra-judicial statement.
Besides, Abubakar said on Jan. 6, 2022, Sanga, who introduced himself as the new prosecutor in the matter, told him that there was an evidence before him (Sanga) which showed that he (Abubakar) gave the sum of 20 million dollars to Adoke.
Abubakar also told the court that Sanga informed him that there was another evidence which indicated that he (Abubakar) gave the sum of 50 million dollars to ex-President Jonathan.
“On the 31st December, 2019, my lawyer, Ahmed Audu, came to me and said one Ibrahim Ahmed from EFCC called him that they needed clarification from me about this case.
“I followed my lawyer to the EFCC office. When I got there, some of the EFCC’s staff like Ibrahim, Babaginda and others came in and told me that I must give a confessional statement.
“They said that things have changed and somebody has to record me (on video), that his name is Bala Sanga.
“He introduced himself as the new prosecutor in this case. He thanked me and said I should continue to cooperate with them and that they will help me if I continue to cooperate with them.
“He then asked me questions. He asked my lawyer to write for me and I said no that I will not make any more statement because I had already made statements which are with them.
“He said if I don’t, they will detain me,” Abubakar said.
He said due to the fact that it was festive period then, he had to succumb to the officer’s instruction.
“I realised the next day was January 1, 2020, that was why I decided that they should write for me,” he said.
When Olanipekun asked Abubakar if he had ever met Sanga in the court before, he said: “Yes, I met him here and he is the prosecutor and the one that was investigating me.”
Speaking on his experience at the anti-graft agency’s office, he said: “That day we went to the EFCC and they ask us to come the second day. Bala Sanga called me to one side that Alhaji, I want to help you in this case.
“He (Sanga) asked how close I am to Adoke. He said you have to sacrifice somebody to be alive.
“He said there is evidence before him which he will show me at the right time; that he heard information that I gave Adoke 20 million dollars.
“I said what? How did it come?
“He said may be because me and Adoke are from the same place and that that was why I did not want to say anything.
“He also said that there is evidence before him that I gave Goodluck Jonathan 50 million dollars.
“He said if I did not agree to cooperate with him, he would charge me to court.
“So I said he should go ahead.”
Abubakar said the argument by the anti-graft agency that nobody asked him to implicate anybody was untrue.
Adoke’s counsel, Kanu Agabi, SAN, while crossed-examining Abubakar, asked him to reconfirmed his statement that Sanga told him to implicate Adoke and he answered in affirmative.
Counsel for the EFCC, Offem Uket, during his cross-examination, told Abubakar that the statements he made on Dec. 31, 2019, and Jan. 6, 2020, were voluntarily made.
He said in the video clip played in the open court in the last adjourned date, Abubakar did not protest against the directive by the agency’s officers on making the extra-judicial statements but the witness disagreed with Uket.
Also, the second defence witness, Ahmed Audu, who is Abubakar’s lawyer, also testified in the matter after Abubakar was discharged from witness box.
Audu said he wrote the statement on Abubakar’s behalf on Dec. 31, 2019.
“Sanga came in that day and asked my name and I said Barrister Ahmed.
” He said he was the new prosecutor in this matter and he took over from one Aliyu Yusuf.
“He said he needed some clarifications from us and my client rejected because he had written a number of statements over this matter.
“Ibrahim said anything Sanga asked us to do we should do.
“While we were there, we heard Magu (former EFCC’s chairman)’s siren coming in and I was even sweating and I felt guilty already.
“I ask Ibrahim why did he say that anything he ask us to do do it.
“That was how we started the statement. That was what happened that day.
“After the statement, I ask Ahmed Ibrahim can I go with my client.
“They released us around 7.30pm on that day and we protested that I will not sign and my client too.
“But they said we will not go until we sign. So they ask us to come on Jan. 6, 2020,” he said.
After Uket’s cross-examined Audu, Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until Sept 28 for hearing.(NAN)