A former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd) and 10 others currently standing trial over analleged N22.8 billion fraud has asked Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos to disqualify a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Owobo Tosin, from testifying in the matter.
The accused persons raised their objections on the competence of the witness to testify in the case through their lawyers at yesterday’s proceedings.
EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, had already commenced the examination of the witness, an investigative officer with the commission, when Amosu’s lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), expressed concern about the refusal of the anti-graft agency to attach the statement of the witness to the proof of evidence.
According to him, the witness would only be competent to give any evidence in the matter when copies of his statement were served on the defendants by the EFCC.
Citing Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, the silk said it is mandatory for any witness who is to give evidence to have a statement.
He said the non-availability of the witness statement is a gross violation of the defendants’ right to fair hearing as enshrined in the Constitution. He then urged the court to disqualify the witness from testifying in the matter.
Oyerinde’s position was also adopted by other defence lawyers.
However, in his response, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, while citing Section 175 of the Evidence Act maintained that the only time a witness can be disqualified by the court is when he cannot understand questions.
According to him, the proof of evidence served on the defence as far back as June 2016 substantially complied with the provisions of Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
He added that it is wrong to be asking for the statement of an investigative officer because he was merely investigating an incident.
Justice Idris will deliver his ruling on the issue today.