3.1 Billion Naira Graft: ‘I lied To Court’s – EFCC Witness

Abubakar Umar the 4th prosecution witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the trial of the former Governor of Benue State Senator Gabriel Suswam informed a Federal High Court in Abuja that his earlier evidence for the EFCC before the court were lies told by him in other to get relief from pressure put on him by unknown persons.

At the resumed trial of Senator Suswam and his then Commissioner of Finance Omodachi Okolobia Mr. Umar among other things admitted to the Court that he gave contradictory evidence to the court against the Defendants.

It would be recalled that on the 5th of May, 2016, Umar had in his evidence before Hon. Justice A. R Mohammed of the same Court stated that sometime in the year 2014, he delivered the dollar equivalent of the sum of 3.1 billion Naira in cash to officials of the Benue State Government at the Government House in Benue and he was not aware if the said sum was handed over to Suswam. The prosecution therefore brought an application before the court on 31st January, 2018 to declare Mr. Umar a hostile witness because his evidence before the court amounted to ‘a summersault’ arguing that the witness had earlier informed the EFCC that he delivered the money in question to Suswam personally at his Maitama residence in Abuja.

After the Hon. Justice A R Mohammed declared Mr. Umar a hostile witness, Mr. Umar informed the court on 31st January, 2018 that his understanding of Government House was wherever the Governor lives therefore Senator Suswam’s Abuja private residence was a Government House. However, following a transfer of the case file from Hon. Justice A R Mohammed to Hon. Justice O A Abang of the same court, Mr. Umar was again called as a prosecution witness but this time not declared a hostile witness. On the 4th of January 2020 Mr. Umar under cross-examination by Chinelo Ogbozor (counsel to Suswam) admitted that his evidence before Hon. Justice Mohammed was a lie.

The witness added that he did not receive money from anybody to lie to the Court. When asked by Ogbozor if he knows that persons who told him to lie or their phone numbers, the witness answered in the negative. Again, the witness was asked by Ogbozor if the EFCC or the Police investigated his telephone records to identify the callers who he claimed put him to his lie, the witness answered in the negative.

Under further cross-examination by Ogbozor, Mr. Umar who had stated in his evidence in chief that he converted the vexed sum from naira to dollars within 2-3 days and handed same over to Suswam recanted and stated that it took him 4 days to convert the money from Naira to dollars. Mr. Umar further recanted from his earlier evidence before Justice Mohammed where he stated that the Government House was wherever the Governor lives stating instead that he said he took the money to the Government House without more. When Ogbozor asked Umar if he was under administrative bail by the EFCC, Umar answered in the affirmative stating also that he was granted bail by the Commission after he recanted his testimony before Justice Mohammed. Mr. Umar concluded his first cross examination by admitting that he has told the court 3 contradicting versions of how he delivered money to Suswam.

At the resumed trial held Mr. Umar under further cross-examination by Mr. Paul Erokoro SAN counsel to the 2nd Defendant admitted that he was not a licensed BDC operator having not obtained a BDC licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria. He informed the court that though he confessed to operating an illegal BDC business to the EFCC, the Commission was yet to charge him to court instead the EFCC granted him bail after he made statements in EFCC detention and under word of caution. Mr. Umar further admitted that his evidence before Justice Mohammed was a lie. When Erokoro confronted the witness with his earlier evidence where he stated that he converted the money and took it to the residence of the 1st Defendant in Kubwa, and in his reaction, the witness stated that he did not mention that he took the money to Kubwa but to Suswam’s house in Maitama Abuja. However, when Erokoro asked Mr. Umar if the contents of the proceedings of Justice Mohammed was a lie against Umar, he answered in the negative.

Again when asked if the EFCC prosecutor was wrong when he made the application before Justice Mohammed to declare Umar a hostile witness because he was being untruthful, Umar answered in the negative. The witness however insisted that he lied on oath because some faceless persons from the 1st Defendant put him under pressure. The trial is adjourned to 25th and 26th February 2020 and the 24th and 26th March 2020 for continuation of trial.

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