Fake Committee Approved N5.6bn Aviation Contract - Witness Insists

Source: OUR REPORTER. - thewillnigeria.com

San Francisco, Sept 22, (THEWILL) - A principal prosecution witness, Reuben Omosigho in the on-going trial of former Aviation minister, Prof Babalola Borishade and four others on Wednesday September 22, 2010 insisted that a former Personal Assistant to the ex-minister, Mr. T.A Dairo made oral and written confessions during his interrogation that the committee that approved the N5.6 billion aviation contract was a phantom one.

The former minister is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 15 count amended charge along with Rowland Iyayi, T. A. Dairo, George Eider and Avsatel Communications Limited before Justice Umar Sadiq of the FCT high court, Maitama Abuja.

At the resumed hearing of the case today, the principal prosecution witness, Omosigho, stressed that in the course of his interview with third accused person, T.A. Dairo, voluntarily wrote in his statement that he served as the secretary to the phantom committee that awarded the N5.6 billion aviation contract on the instructions of Prof Borisade.

He told the court that the third accused person was not under any duress when he was writing his statement as claimed by the Counsel to the 3rd accused Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN.

Counsel to the 3rd accused person Awomolo had in his effort to discredit the witness said the witness was being evasive in his responses, but the prosecution counsel Serbastine Hon objected, saying that the prosecution was only trying to contradict the witness, prolong the trial within trial in a bid to delay the substantive case.

The EFCC counsel thereafter prayed the court to discountenance the submission of the defence counsel, and grant the witness avenue to tell the court what transpired during the investigation. The prosecution had on Tuesday equally accused the defence of employing deliberate antics aimed at delaying the trial.

In the course of cross-examining the principal prosecution witness, counsel to the former minister, Keyinde Ogunwumiju, faulted the admissibility of "exhibit N" saying that the exhibit was desperately procured to discredit Borishade. He expressed reservations about the genuineness of the exhibit. However, EFCC counsel, Hon, SAN, objected to the reservations made by the defence counsel saying it was a deliberate trick to delay the trial of all the accused persons. He submitted that trial within trial was very narrow and must be within the confines of the law. He reminded defence counsel that admissibility of exhibits was the bone of contention that led to trial within trial in the substantive case and should be avoided in order to accelerate the trial.

Earlier, Omosigho had told the court that the statement of T. A. Dairo, was given voluntarily, adding that the issue of duress did not arise in the course of investigation. "Dairo personally wrote that Borishade did not constitute a committee, there was no bidding for the contract, all the people that signed as members of the committee were clerks in the minister’s office while Dairo signed as secretary of the committee," the witness disclosed.

The matter has been adjourned till October 19 and 20 for further hearing.