- Nyako’s trial resumes wednesday
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The 15th prosecution witness in the trial of the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh (rtd), Mohammed Goji, tuesday told the Federal High Court in Abuja that the sum of $1million was found in the wardrobe in the Maitama property belonging to Badeh.
Goji, who is a detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the money was stashed in a boiling kettle pack in the upper compartment of the bedroom wardrobe of the first defendant.
The witness said the EFCC obtained a search warrant before conducting the search of the two houses belonging to the former CDS.
Badeh is currently facing corruption and money laundering charges at the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
When the matter came up yesterday, he vehemently objected to the admissibility of document and other evidence found the property.
The anti-graft agency claimed the exhibits belonged to the former CDS and sought to tender them as evidence against him in the 10-count charge preferred against him and Iyalikam Nigeria Limited.
Badeh along with a company, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, is standing trial before Justice Okon Abang on charges bordering on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption to the tune of N3.97 billion.
The objection according to Badeh’s counsel, Alhaji Sanusi Lasun (SAN), was hinged on the grounds that the search was executed in gross violation of Section 150 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which requires that the person, whose property is being searched or any person, acting for him must be present during the search to sign the inventory of the items recovered from the property.
Lasun argued that there is nowhere in law that allows the person conducting a search to pick any body from the street to supervise the search, as done by the EFCC, which he noted picked a security guard from the neighbourhood to sign the inventory of the items allgedly recovered from the property located on Oji River Street, Maitama District, Abuja allegedly belonging to Badeh.
The counsel who stated that Badeh witnessed the first search conducted on his Asokoro residence by the EFCC, wondered why the anti-graft agency refused to conduct the second search in his presence, even when Badeh was then in the custody of the prosecution.
“The search was conducted in a clear violation of Section 150 of ACJA and anything done in violation of ACJA, which regulates criminal trial, is a nullity.
“Nobody shaves a man’s head behind him. All the items claimed to be found in the defendant’s house was a nullity,” Lasun said and urged the court to refuse the items sought to be tendered from the second search by the EFCC.
In his submission, the prosecution counsel said the argument of the defence counsel is not correct, adding that Section 149(4) of ACJA permits a search warrant to be executed in the presence of a witness and the person it is addressed to.
He said the provisions allows the person which the warrant is addressed to look for a witness in the neighbourhood to supervise the search, saying, there is no law that says the owner of the house must be present before a search warrant can be executed.
Jacobs said how the document was obtained is irrelevant for the purpose of admissibility and that, what is important is the relevance of the document to the proceedings of the court.
In a related development, Justice Abang will today continue with the trial of the former governor of Adamawa State, Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd) and seven others standing trial over their alleged involvement in a N40 billion fraud while he was governor of the state.
EFCC is prosecuting the former governor along with his co-defendants on a 37-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering.
They are alleged to have used five companies, Blue Opal Nigeria limited, Serore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Towers Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited, among other companies to commit the fraud.