Alex Enumah in Abuja
The trial of the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, has finally commenced before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja.
At the commencement of the trial yesterday, the prosecution counsel, Mohammed Diri, told the tribunal that they would call three witnesses in the case, following which Samuel Madujemu who is a staff of CCT in the Asset Tracing Department was called as the first witness.
According to Madujemu, the former minister was invited to clear himself by making a declaration in the asset form for the year 2007-2011, for which Orubebe was issued with forms five times.
He further explained that in the intelligence assessment on the declaration made by the defendant, they discovered that there were other properties allegedly traced to him.
The witness further said record examination was also conducted by writing to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Department of Lands Administration, who in their response, stated that Plot No 2057 Asokoro district, Abuja for which the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) was issued on April 10, 2011 belonged to Orubebe.
He added that when they compared the information supplied with that of the records from the FCT land, it was discovered that the Asokoro property was not disclosed even as at May 29, 2011 when he left office.
Tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar, admitted the five assets declaration forms and four others presented by the prosecution in evidence.
But admissibility of one of the documents which is a response from the FCTA in February, 2016 was opposed by the defence counsel Larry Selekeowei, SAN on the ground that the documents cannot be admissible as the maker, Funke Audu, an Assistant Chief State Counsel at the FCTA is an interested party and the documents was procured at the pendency of the suit.
But prosecution counsel responding, said the C of O dated April 10, 2011 was signed on 26 May 2011 by Bala Mohammed and the documents were received by CCB in respect of criminal investigation therefore the letter can be admissible.
In a bench ruling the tribunal overruled the objection and held that Funke Audu being a state counsel can be posted anywhere and is on the payroll of the federal government and not on that of the AGF therefore not an interested party.
Madujemu ended his testimony by disclosing that when Orubebe was called to clear the discrepancies in the asset declaration, neither him nor any legal representative showed up.
The tribunal adjourned till April 14, for the defendant to cross examines the witness.
Orubebe is standing trial on one count charge of false asset declaration.