By Akin Kuponiyi
When the trial of Babalele son in-law of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar resumed Wednesday, the EFCC witness, Bashir Mohammed, recapped how he delivered the sum of $140,000 directly to someone at the Obasanjo library in Ogun State.
During cross examination by defense counsel Mike Ozhekome SAN, who directed the witness to read from his extra judicial statement made to the EFCC on the 11th of March. ” I collected the dollars cash from Dan Asabe and I called Abdulahi and he told me to take the money to Ogun state to Obasanjo’s library. “When I got to the library, I met a man who asked if am Bashir and I said yes. He asked where is the message from Abdulahi and I gave him the money.
“I don’t know the name of the person I gave the money but I can identify the office”, the witness said.
Mr Ozhekome, while addressing the court, said the defense had established from the portion of extra judicial statements it asked the witness to read that they are contradictory to his witness in court yesterday.
“Yesterday you said you gave Obasanjo $140,000 personally in his house but in this your statement today, you wrote that you gave the money to a man in the library that you don’t even know his name. ”
“You told the court yesterday that you changed N50,400,000 that was transferred to you but in your statement we have seen N53million and N52.5million that was transferred to you. ”
The defence sought to re-admit the statement of the witness as evidence stating that it had complied with the requirements said to be lacking in a ruling delivered by Justice Aneke at the beginning of proceedings today which stated that “the defense ought to have laid enough foundation for the admissibility of the evidence before seeking to tender it so the objection of the prosecution is upheld. The court advises the defense to lay proper foundation before seeking to admit it in evidence. ”
In objecting, the prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo said the court had already ruled on the admissibility of the statement and trying to readmit same document amounts to relitigation of an already determined matter.
He also maintained that the witness had identified different statements made to the EFCC but the defense is only seeking to tender one while withholding others.
Responding, Mr Ozhekome said the prosecution cannot instruct the defense on how to conduct its case.
He also maintained that the defense was choosing to tender the statement because it directly mentioned the defendant, stating that other statements had nothing to do with the defendant or his case.
Mr Ozhekome tendered five of the statements identified by the witness.
However, Oyedepo insisted that the statement of the witness taken on the 9th of August be tendered also claiming it explained all the discrepancies in the other statements.
In objection, Mr Ozhekome said the defense had not read the statement and had only been working with the five statements duly identified by the witness.
At this point, Justice Aneke adjourned the case till 29th and 30th of January 2020; 12th and 13th of February 2020 for ruling on the admissibility of the 6th statement of Mr Mohammed and continuation of cross examination and trial.
Mr Babalele is being tried on a two-count charge of laundering $140,000.