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N1.5Billion Scam: EFCC Did Not Force Ikuforiji's Aide To Make Statement

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SAN FRANCISCO, April 29, (THEWILL) - The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Monday denied allegation by Mr. Oyebode Atoyebi, Personal Assistant to the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji that he was forced to volunteer statement to the EFCC.

Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, while leading the first prosecution witness Sergeant Hycient Obinna in evidence, told a Lagos High Court presided over by Justice Deborah Oluwayemi that neither Atoyebi nor Olayinka Sanni wrote any statement under duress. Sanni and Atoyebi, are standing trial in a case of conspiracy, stealing and forgery amounting to about N1.5billion.

Sanni, a chartered accountant and operator of SIDAW Ventures, a bureau de change, was alleged to have fraudulently transferred various sums of money from more than seven customers of the former Intercontinental Bank into the account of SIDAW Ventures owned and operated by him without the customers’ consent; while Atoyebi was docked for allowing his passport-sized photograph and name to be used to open an account by SIDAW Ventures Limited in the name of Akanmu Babatunde. With this fictitious name, Sanni brokered many shady deals and duped many innocent people.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, Obinna was asked by the EFCC counsel to identify the statements written by Oyebode and Sanni. He identified the statements and the dates they were obtained.

But defence counsel, A.T. Abdulsalam alleged that the statements were written under duress and that “duress can be anything”.

“My lord, duress can be a promise of secrecy or a promise of letting you go”.

This submission prompted Oyedepo to request the prosecution witness to explain to the court what happened on the day the statements were taken. The witness told the court that the two suspects were well-received on the day they responded to the allegations imputed to them by their petitioners. They were taken through the normal procedures of writing statements under caution and they complied.

Counsel to Atoyebi, Abiodun Onidare, however countered that his client was intimidated in the course of writing his statements because the statements were written with two different pens and in two different handwritings, suggesting that the statements may not have been voluntarily written.

Oyedepo, in his response, asked the witness whether any force was applied on the defendants while taking their statements. “We are operatives in EFCC and we do not handle guns, I was just with my pen and the statements form while taking their statements”, the witness said.

Justice Oluwayemi adjourned the case to May 9, 2013, for cross-examination of the prosecution witness.