HomeNEWSLegal Drama Unfolds: Emefiele Trial Paused as EFCC Presents New Evidence

Legal Drama Unfolds: Emefiele Trial Paused as EFCC Presents New Evidence

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Afor Kenneth 

The trial of former Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele encountered a delay on Friday as his legal team requested an adjournment due to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) serving additional proof of evidence in court.

Justice Rahman Oshodi granted the adjournment, acknowledging the validity of the defense’s reasons. The trial will resume on May 9th for the continuation of the cross-examination of the second prosecution witness, John Ayoh, a former Director of Information Technology at the CBN.

Emefiele, alongside his co-defendant Henry Omoile, faces a 26-count charge alleging $4.5 billion and N2.8 billion fraud brought against them by the EFCC.

During their arraignment on April 8, both Emefiele and his co-defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Subsequently, on April 12, the trial commenced with the testimony of the first prosecution witness, Monday Osazuwa, a CBN staff, who detailed how Emefiele allegedly directed him to collect millions of dollars in cash on various occasions.

READ ALSO: EFCC Set to Arraign Former CBN Governor Emefiele Over Controversial Printing of N684.5 Million Notes

The second prosecution witness began his testimony on April 29, and Justice Oshodi adjourned the trial to May 9 for the continuation of his cross-examination.

During the recent proceedings, the prosecution, led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court of the presence of the second prosecution witness and the service of additional proof of evidence, including statements from John Adetola, to the defense team.

However, Emefiele’s counsel, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), objected, stating that Emefiele had not reviewed the newly served documents and requested an adjournment to allow for proper preparation. Ojo emphasized the importance of ensuring adequate time for the defense, stating “justice rushed is justice crushed.”

Ojo said, “the defence may find anything useful in the additional proof of evidence to cross-examine the witness in the box so I humbly urge the court to adjourn this matter so that I can thoroughly go through it and study it”.

The counsel for the second defendant, Adeyinka Kotoye (SAN), echoed the sentiments of the first defense counsel. He urged the court to adjourn the case to ensure justice and provide ample time for him to review the additional proof of evidence.

Kotoye emphasized the importance of preventing “trial by ambush” and called for measures to halt such practices.

“I also apply to your lordship to mandate the prosecution to supply us all relevant materials. In the spirit of fairness, I urge your lordship to adjourn the case,” Kotoye said.

The prosecution counsel, Oyedepo, strongly opposed the defendants’ request for an adjournment. He argued that the statements of Adetola were included in the proof of evidence served on the defense since April 4, as part of the materials contained in volume two.

Therefore, Oyedepo contended that there was no basis for the defendants’ request, as they had already been provided with the relevant documents well in advance.

He said: “In preparation for his testimony that will be coming up not today, not even on May 9, the prosecution, rather than wait for defence to formally place a demand on us on what is in the device (his mobile phone) decided to make same available to the defence out of diligence.

“I plead with the defence not to delay this case unnecessarily as we have a witness in the box who had given evidence and he is already being cross-examined by the first defence counsel.

“If defence is angry that I served them the proof of evidence today, we can withdraw it and serve same later day.

“The society is interested in this case, they are watching us that will this matter be adjourned based on the evidence of another man who is not the witness in the box. We are not rushing or crushing justice, rather, we are aiding the oil of justice to grind steadily.

“Expeditious determination of the case is of utmost importance and so we urge your lordship to allow the cross-examination,” Oyedepo said.

In his ruling, Justice Oshodi stated that he had carefully considered the arguments presented by both parties. After evaluating the reasons provided by the defense for the adjournment, he concluded that they were valid and satisfactory.

“I have considered the conflicting submissions regarding whether I should adjourn for further continuation of trial. I am satisfied with the reasons given by defence.

“For the adjournment sought, I grant it. I adjourn to May 9, 2024, for continuation of trial,” the court held.

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