By Paul Obi in Abuja
A prosecution witness in the trial of Henry Ugbolue, an aide to Kingsley Kuku (former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta), Ayogu Nnamdi told Justice M. M. Kolo of the FCT High Court Wuse, Abuja that the accounts of Great & Gamaliel Alliance Limited received a turnover of about N35.2million in two months.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Head of Media and Information, Wilson Uwujaren explained that the EFCCÂ “had on April 20, 2016 arraigned Ugbolue and Lawrence Pepple, both former aides to Kuku on two separate charges bordering on criminal conspiracy, false declaration of assets and fraudulent acquisition of property to the tune of N55million.
“Kuku and Ugbolue were alleged to have conspired among themselves and awarded contracts running into millions to companies in which they had interests. “It was alleged that Ugbolue was the sole signatory of Great & Gamaliel Alliance Limited, the company which provided integrated management of communications and stakeholdersâ€™ engagement chain for the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta.
â€œOn his part, Pepple was the director and sole signatory for KER Global Wave Limited, which was awarded a contract to provide Reintegration Support Services by the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta under the Presidential Amnesty Programmeâ€.
Testifying, Nnamdi, a compliance officer at the United Bank for Africa, UBA, who is PW1, told the court that, â€œa sum of N35, 206,564.89 was paid to the account of Great & Gamaliel Alliance Limited between March 4 and May 15, 2014 through the Office of Special Adviser to President on Niger Delta.â€
Counsel to EFCC, Faruk Abdullah, sought to tender account opening documents, statement of account and mandate card in evidence, but the admissibility of the documents was objected to by Ugbolueâ€™s counsel, G. E. Ezeuko, SAN, on the grounds that the documents were originals of public documents adding that, only certified true copies of public documents were admissible.
Ezeuko argued that, â€œone of the account statements has no certificate of identification and the one with certificate of identification did not comply with Section 84 (4) of the Evidence Act.â€
He also noted that one of the account statements was not in the proof of evidence given to him.
Responding, Abdallah argued that, â€œwe concede that the documents are originals of public document. However, contrary to the submission of the defendantâ€™s counsel, the original of a public document is admissible as itâ€™s a primary document itself. The Supreme Court had settled this when it held that, such document is the best form of documentâ€.
Abdallah added that, â€œItâ€™s only when you intend to tender a secondary evidence of a public document that it must be certified”.
Justice Kolo deferred ruling on the admissibility of the documents. He, however, admitted the documents, in the interim, as exhibits D and E, adding that, â€œin the event the documents were found inadmissible everything relating to it would be expunged from the court recordâ€. The judge, thereafter, adjourned to September 20, 2017 for continuation of trial.