The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 presented another witness in the ongoing trial of the spokesman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, and his company Destra Investment Limited, before Justice O.E Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
Testifying as prosecution witness (PW3), Bali Ndam, a civil servant and legal officer in the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, told the court how the ONSA wrote a letter to the EFCC requesting the Commission to investigate some payments made for contracts that were never executed.
Ndam told the court that, a sum of N400m (four hundred million naira) was transferred to Destra Investment Limited from the office of the National Security Adviser.
Destra Investment Limited, the second defendant in the matter, is a company owned by for the embattled spokesperson of the PDP.
He identified the documents marked “exhibits A to C” presented as emanating from the ONSA as well as EFCC on the investigation of the said payments.
The admissibility of the documents was contested by the defence counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, on the grounds that, a witness can only testify to a document made by him and not by someone else.
Ikpeazu also argued that, the documents did not have a certified true copy attached to it”.
“Besides, the Annexure to the documents are electronically generated and should satisfy the provisions of Section 84 of the Evidence Act”, he further argued.
Responding, counsel to EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir stated that the documents have been misconstrued by the defence.
He submitted that, the letters cannot bear a certified true copy because they bear the original signature of the maker and not a photocopy.
“It is a public document which can be tendered in court by the recipient and testified to by a public servant like the witness. The electronically generated documents are only correspondence and not a statement of account as provided for by Section 84 cited by the defence. The documents are all relevant in the case. I urge your lordship to admit same”, pleaded Tahir.
In a bench ruling, Justice Abang opined that there were several departments of the government involved in the prosecution of this matter which included not just the EFCC, but the ONSA and other government organisations.
According to him, any officer in the department involved in the prosecution, can appear to testify or tender any correspondence issued by that organisation.
The judge further stated that, it is only a public document for the payment of a prescribed fee that requires a certified true copy.
Therefore, if the letters are admissible in court, the annexure can also be admissible. The document cannot be presented in piecemeal as they are all relevant in the case.
“I hereby admit the evidence as exhibits “A – C””, he ruled.
Under cross-examination, Ndam maintained that, the sum of N400m (four hundred million naira) was transferred to Destra Investment Limited from ONSA.
Justice Abang, thereafter adjourned the matter to January 27, 2016 for continuation of trial.