Court Admits Oronsaye’s Statement as Evidence in His Trial for Money Laundering

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

An Abuja High Court has admitted the statement made by a former Head of Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) during his interrogation on alleged financial crimes filed against him.

Justice Olasunmbo Goodluck admitted the statement in her ruling after she overruled the objection challenging the admission of the statement by the defence counsel, Dr. Abiodun Layonu (SAN).
Layonu who is defending Oronsaye in the trial, had vehemently objected the tendering of the statement by the prosecution witness, Hamma-Adama Bello, an operative of EFCC on the grounds that he was not the officer who applied cautionary word when the statement was made.

The defence counsel had argued that since Bello did not counter sign the statement, he could not be cross-examined on it, as such, he was not the appropriate person to tender the document in evidence.

But the prosecution counsel, Offem Uket, who sought to tender the document through the witness urged Justice Goodluck to allow the witness to tender it on the grounds that he was a member of the team that investigated the petition and was present when the defendant made the statement.

Uket further informed the court that the standard practice was that only one person administers cautionary word and counter-sign at a time. Thus, even though the Bello who is the Prosecution Witness 6 was present at the time the statement was made, only one signature was necessary on the statement made by the defendant.

To this, Justice Goodluck agreed with the prosecution counsel that the witness could tender the document but she however noted that caution would be applied by the court in attaching probate value to the statement.

She therefore allowed the witness to tender the document in evidence.
Meanwhile, the trial of the ex-Head of Service on money laundering charges continues today.