Witness contradicts self in Lamido’s alleged N1. 351b bribe case
A Federal High Court in Abuja will today rule on whether a prosecution witness would be given the opportunity to explain the seeming contradictions between his statement to the EFCC and his statement before the court, yesterday.
The witness, Mohammed Surajo Ahmadu, who testified before Justice Adeniyi Ademola, yesterday, had during cross-examination by the defense counsel, Joe Agi, SAN, made statements to the court that seemingly contradicted his statements with EFCC on April 29, 2015 and August 4, 2015.
Lamido was arraigned along with his two sons: Aminu and Mustapha and former aide, Wada Abubakar on a 28-count charge of conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering valued at N1.351 billion.
The former governor was alleged to have received bribe to the tune of N1.351 billion from a contractor with the state government through bank accounts he controls with his sons.
Surajo had told the court that he has only had two financial transactions with Mustapha; son of Sule Lamido to whom he sold his ‘personal’ Prudent Bank shares in two transactions; one worth over N5m and the other valued at N810, 000.
Whereas, according to a statement he made to EFCC presented before the court and filed as Exhibit EFCC 50, he had sold his shares at Inland Bank worth over N10m to Mustapha instead.
Surajo, however, denied owning shares at Inland Bank, insisting on several occasions that he had sold shares he owned at Prudent Bank (Now Skye Bank) to the 3rd defendant and that he never owned shares at Inland Bank,
He said: “I sold my shares worth over N5m and another at N810, 000 to Mustapha. I sold my personal shares at Prudent Bank, now Skye Bank.”
“I also bought a Honda Accord from Mustapha valued at N2.4m.”
During the cross-examination, Defense Counsel, Mr. Agi, then asked: “You told the EFCC that you sold your Inland Bank shares to Mustapha for N10m.”
He replied, “I don’t have shares at Inland Bank at all let alone sell them to Mustapha.”
It should however, be noted that the said witness at the beginning of the proceedings, after he had been called into the box, told the court that he cannot properly speak English and can neither read nor write.
For this reason, the court had provided him with a translator who would translate whatever he said in his Hausa language into English to the court and vice versa.
While further drawing the attention of the witness to statement he made to the EFCC on 28/29 April 2015, Defense Counsel, Agi, asked that the translator read the statement of the witness to him.
He read: “I sold my Inland Bank shares to Mustapha at the cost of around N10m.”
Surajo, refuting the EFCC statement tendered before the court said that contrary to the EFCC statement, he never told EFCC that he owned shares at Inland Bank but that he sold shares he owned at the former Prudent Bank to Mustapha.
“I gave my statement in Hausa to the EFCC official, who was recording in English. I told him that it was Prudent Bank, now Skye Bank and I showed him the documentation of shares sold to the 3rd defendant,” the witness told the court.
The court also however, drew attention to the contradictory detail in the statement where though he said he told the EFCC official that it was Prudent Bank, not Inland Bank but the monies mentioned are not the same.
It was stated as N5m in the one he gave before the court and about N10m in the statement with the EFCC.
Also, details surrounding the transaction between the witness and the 3rd defendant where he had told the court that he bought a Honda Accord from Mustapha for N2.4m was brought to the attention of the court by the defense counsel.
Agi said: “In Exhibit 51, you said you bought an Honda Accord for N2.4m from Mustapha Lamido for N2.4m whereas it was stated in the EFCC statement for N2.5m.”
The witness replying said: “I told the EFCC that I bought the car at the sum of N2.4m. I knew Mustapha even before the issue of contract when his father was Governor of Jigawa. That relationship led to the award of contract.”
“Apart from the two business transactions with the 3rd defendant, I told EFCC that I travelled with the 3rd defendant to Dubai.”
“I told the EFCC that I have personal transactions with the 3rd defendant. The two I had mentioned were done in my company’s name,” Surajo told the court.
At this point, the defendant accused him of lying to the court saying he had only had two financial transactions with Mustapha whereas he had made other business transactions with the 3rd defendant which he described as personal transactions.”
Justice Adeniyi Ademola thereafter adjourned the matter till March 9, 2016 to give ruling on an application by the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Chile Okoroma where he had prayed the court for further examination of the witness for clarification of his statement.
Justice Ademola also asked that the prosecution counsel present his witnesses today (Wednesday), in effect adjourning the case to today for further hearing.
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