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EFCC denies forcing Akinjide, others to make statements

EFCC denies forcing Akinjide, others to make statements

- Accused persons allege that the EFCC coerced them to make statements

- The Federal High Court orders a trial within trial to determine if the statements were made voluntarily

- The anti-graft commission accuses the defendants of conspiring to directly take possession of N650m

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has insisted that neither the former FCT minister, Jumoke Akinjide nor any of the other co-accused in a joint trial was tortured or induced to make statement.

The anti-graft commission made the statement on Monday, April 23, at the ongoing trial of Akinjide and two others before the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Daily Trust reports.

Other defendants in the case include former senator representing Oyo central senatorial district, Ayo Adeseun, and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader in Oyo state, Chief Olarenwaju Otiti.

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They all reportedly claimed that the EFCC coerced, induced and tortured them to make their statements on the alleged offence preferred against them at the commission's office.

The commission had accused the defendants of conspiring to directly take possession of N650million, which they reasonably ought to have known was part of proceeds of an unlawful act, and without going through a financial institution.

The court had ordered a trial within trial to determine if the statements were made voluntarily.

The prosecuting counsel, Nnaemeka Omenwa, told the court that the defendants were not forced to make a statement.

Omenwa, who represented Oyedepo, Zakari, the head of the the commission’s special task force 4, said when Adeseun reported at the commission on May 11, 2016, he agreed to make a statement only in his lawyer’s presence.

“We had to wait for his lawyer to come before he made statements. The following day, the second defendant made a statement voluntarily in the presence of his lawyer.

“At the expiration of the remand warrant, he was released to his nephew, a pharmacist who bore the same surname,” Zakari said.

The commission said Otiti reported at EFCC on December 1, 2016, during which she was interviewed and cautioned.

“After the interview, she volunteered her statement in the presence of her friend. She was granted bail on self-cognisance. She asked to be allowed to go home so she could come up with a list of people she disbursed part of the N650million to. She was not detained.

“In her next reporting date, she came with a list of beneficiaries to whom she disbursed over N90million.

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“The second and third defendants’ statements were devoid of any promise, threat or duress.

“The statements were made in the Conference room. It’s a big hall, not a torture chamber. We don’t torture, we don’t threaten. We investigate economic and financial crimes, not violent crimes,” EFCC said.

Meanwhile, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has been restrained by a Rivers state high court in Port Harcourt from mentioning the name of Prince Uche Secondus, national chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the minster's looters list.

Justice I A Iyayi-Lamikanta, the trial Judge and chief judge of River state, granted the order for one of two prayers in a motion by Prince Secondus urging the court to restrain the defendants from further publishing the libelous content, Vanguard reports.

The PDP national chairman in Suit PHC/1013/2018, is suing Lai Mohammed along with Federal Government and Vintage Press, for N1.5Billion, as damages for alleged libel when his name was listed as a looter.

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