Court adjourns Emefiele’s trial as EFCC files additional evidence

The trial of a former Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, was stalled in court on Friday after his lawyers sought an adjournment.

This is following the additional proof of evidence served on them in court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The trial judge, Justice Rahman Oshodi, granted the adjournment after he agreed with the defence team that the reasons given for the adjournment had merit.

The judge adjourned till May 9th for a continuation of the cross-examination of the second prosecution witness, John Ayoh, a former Director of Information Technology of the CBN.

Emefiele is facing a 26-count charge before the court, alongside his co-defendant, Henry Omoile, over allegations of $4.5 billion and N2.8 billion fraud brought against them by the EFCC.

At the resumed proceeding, the prosecution team led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the second prosecution witness was in court for the continuation of his testimony.

He also told the court that he had served on the defence team, the statements of one John Adetola, as additional proof of evidence.

But counsel to Emefiele Olalekan Ojo, SAN, raised objections. He told the court that Emefiele had not seen the documents just served on him by the prosecution, and urged the court to grant an adjournment to enable him to study the documents and adequately prepare for the defence of his client.

He noted that justice rushed is justice crushed.

Ojo said “the defence may find anything useful in the additional proof of evidence to cross-examine the witness in the box so I humbly urge the court to adjourn this matter so that I can thoroughly go through it and study it.”

The counsel to the second defendant, Adeyinka Kotoye, SAN, also aligned himself with the submission of the first defence counsel. He urged the court to adjourn the case in the interest of justice and to afford him adequate opportunity to study the additional proof of evidence. He asked the court not to entertain ‘trial by ambush’ and to put a stop to it.

“I also apply to your lordship to mandate the prosecution to supply us all relevant materials. In the spirit of fairness, I urge your lordship to adjourn the case,” Kotoye said.

But the prosecution counsel, Oyedepo vehemently objected to the request for an adjournment by the defendants.

Oyedepo argued that the statements of Adetola which were served on the prosecution were those of the 5th prosecution witness listed in the proof of evidence which was contained in volume two of what was served on the defence since April 4.

He said: “In preparation for his testimony that will be coming up not today, not even on May 9, the prosecution, rather than wait for defence to formally place a demand on us on what is in the device (his mobile phone) decided to make same available to the defence out of diligence.

“I plead with the defence not to delay this case unnecessarily as we have a witness in the box who had given evidence and he is already being cross-examined by the first defence counsel.

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“If defence is angry that I served them the proof of evidence today, we can withdraw it and serve same later day.

“The society is interested in this case, they are watching us that will this matter be adjourned based on the evidence of another man who is not the witness in the box. We are not rushing or crushing justice, rather, we are aiding the oil of justice to grind steadily.

“Expeditious determination of the case is of utmost importance and so we urge your lordship to allow the cross-examination.”

Justice Oshodi said he had considered the submissions of the parties and he was satisfied with the reasons given by defence for the adjournment.

“I have considered the conflicting submissions regarding whether I should adjourn for further continuation of trial.

“I am satisfied with the reasons given by defence.

“For the adjournment sought, I grant it. I adjourn to May 9, 2024, for continuation of trial,” the court held.

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