A retired detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Dickson Graymond, on Tuesday told an Ikeja High Court that a pastor, Nsikakabasi Akpan-Jacobs, confessed voluntarily to defrauding Mrs. Titi Atiku, the wife of former Vice-President Abubakar Atiku of N918 million.
Graymond disclosed this at the resumed trial of a 14-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and fraudulent conversion of property worth N918 million belonging to THA Shipping Maritime Services Ltd preferred against Akpan-Jacobs and others by the EFCC.
The EFCC had charged Akpan-Jacobs; Abdulmalik Ibrahim, a lawyer; and Dana Motors Ltd with a 14-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and fraudulent conversion of property worth N918 million belonging to THA Shipping Maritime Services Ltd.
THA Shipping Maritime Services Ltd, a company created in 2000, is owned by Titi Atiku, Akpan-Jacobs and Fred Holmes, her German business partner.
According to the EFCC, welding a fraudulent shareholding power, Akpan-Jacobs also sold a property belonging to the company to Dana Motors Nigeria Ltd for N918 million.
At yesterdayâ€™s proceedings, the witness, who was led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Mr. Babatunde Sonoiki during a trial-within-trial investigating the voluntariness of Akpan-Jacobâ€™s alleged confessional statement to the anti-graft agency said â€œThere are so many things that he confided to me that he refused to put into writing.
â€œHe admitted to me that Florence Doregos was Titi Atiku but he refused to put that into writing.
â€œHe confided to me that he wanted to contest in the Akwa-Ibom elections and that as soon as he begs Her Excellency, the matter will be over.
â€œAll what he told me were not forced, I did not even force him to write all what he confided in me in his confessional statement.
â€œAll what he said in his statement was of his own free will.â€
During his cross-examination by Mr. Amos Ibe, Akpan-Jacobâ€™s defence counsel, the retired detective denied illegally detaining the pastor in EFCC custody for three weeks and denying him access to legal representation.
â€œThe first defendant (Akpan-Jacobs) was served with bail conditions by the EFCC but he could not provide sureties and we could not grant him bail on self recognisance because of the gravity of the case against him.
â€œHe did not spend three weeks with us but six days and he was given the opportunity to produce a lawyer but he refused saying he will write his statement on his own.
â€œDapo and Chima (EFCC operatives) did not force him to write any undertaking,â€ he said.
Graymond also denied bringing Akpan-Jacobs to the Abuja office of the EFCC on the influence of Titi Atiku.
Earlier, during the proceedings, Ibe had objected to the tendering of statements Akpan-Jacobs had made at the EFCC offices dated February 6, 12, and 13, 2009, March 4 and 5, 2009 Â and April 2, 2009 on the grounds that they were not given voluntarily.
Following Ibeâ€™s objection, Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye in a ruling ordered that a trial-within-trial should commence.
Justice Ipaye adjourned the case till October 25 for the continuation of the trial-within-trial.