Justice Mohammed Idris of Federal High Court Lagos has admitted the three statements made by an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Christian Nwosu, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), while undergoing interrogation for allegedly receiving N30 million bribe from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deizani Madueke to pervert the 2015 election in Kwara State as exhibits.
The admittance of the statements was sequel to the dismissal of the claims by Nwosu that the three statements he made to the anti-graft agency on December 28, 2016 and on March 15 and 22, 2017 were offered involuntarily.
In a ruling on the contentious issue, Justice Idris noted that nothing has been shown to the court, indicating that the statements sought to be tendered by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, was an admittance of guilt by the defendant.
The judge held: “The requisite intent and ‘mens rea’ has not been proved by the defendant’s counsel. It has not been shown that the statements were positive, direct and unequivocal as to the commission of the offences for which the defendant is standing trial. I cannot in the circumstances hold that these statements are indeed confessional.
“The defendant also corroborated the claims of the prosecution that he was cautioned before the statements were written. Though the defendant alleged that the statements were dictated to him amidst coercion, the said allegation were however debunked by the prosecution witnesses. However, the defendant failed to prove his own side of the story with any corroborative evidence.
“It has also been argued that the statements were taken contrary to the provisions of Section 17 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
“The word ‘may’ as used in the section appears permissive and not mandatory. I therefore hold the view that non-compliance with Section 17 of the ACJA does not render the statements involuntarily.
“In the circumstances, I hold that the statements are admissible in evidence.”
Further hearing in the trial has been fixed for January 11, 2018 by 1p.m.
Nwosu is standing trial with another INEC official, Tijani Bashir, on an amended 7-count charge by the EFCC. They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In the charge, the prosecution alleged that the duo, on March 27, 2015, accepted gratification to the tune of N264 million from Alison-Madueke.
They were alleged to have conspired to take possession of the money which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of gratification.
They were also accused of making cash payments to the tune of about N235 million, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law without going through a financial Institution.