There were fireworks at the Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday, January 16 on the trial of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, between prosecuting counsel and counsel to the defendants over move by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to introduce a new witness, Mr. Johnson Abidakun, in place of Adewale Aladegbola, who gave evidences contrary to the claims by the EFCC during the aborted trial before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.
EFCC had introduced Johnson Abidakun as Prosecution Witness 5 during the trial on October 25, 2019, but counsel to the defendants opposed it, contending that the prosecution did not have the liberty to change a witness just because such a witness failed to give evidence favourable to them.
Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN), who cited provisions of the Administration of Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 and the Evidence Act, described the attempt to substitute Aladegbola with Abidakun as an abuse of prosecutorial power by the EFCC, notifying the court of their intention to file a written application, seeking to prevent him (Abidakun) from giving evidence.
At the trial today, Olalekan Ojo who moved the application flied on December 3, 2019, said the defendants, formulated a sole issue for determination.
He said issue for determination is; “whether the honourable court ought to allow the prosecution to call Mr. Johnson Abidakun to give evidence in charge number FHC/L/353c/18 considering that same would be tantamount to oppressive, unfair and unconscionable conduct or act on the part of the prosecution in the course of establishing their case against the defendants.
Ojo, who also stood in for Ola Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to the first defendant, prayed the court for an order excluding the evidence of Mr. Johnson Abidakun, already sworn as (PW5) on the ground that, “the prosecution having just procured the said withness after a woeful and failed attempt to force Adewale Aladegbola to testify that he drove a bullion van to convey money from Afao Ekiti, the residence of the defendant when in actual fact he categorically testified on oath that the bullion van with which the the prosecution alleged to have used to convey the sum of N200 million was faulty and grounded.”
It should be recalled that Adewale Aladegbola Clement, a former driver to Zenith Bank Ado -Ekiti branch, gave evidence contrary to his extra judicial statement while testifying before Justice Olatoregun.
After Aladegbola had told the court that he was told to lie by the bank Cash Officer, Okemute Oputu and that on April 16, 2015, the Zenith Bank bullion van was grounded and there was no operations, he was reportedly arrested by the EFCC and detained for hours.
Responding to the defendants application seeking to prevent Johnson Abidakun from giving evidence in place of Aladegbola, EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), canvassed that the application was strange and that bringing Abidakun as withness in a case starting afresh was not an abuse of Court process moreso that Aladegbola could no longer be found as contained in paragraph 4(h) of the prosecution Counter-affidavit.
He urge the court to dismiss the Application with substantial cost.
However, in his counter reaction, Ojo punctured the 5-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Akintunde Olasunkanmi, a clerk/litigation officer in the law firm of the Prospecting Counsel.
Ojo told the court that all the deposition by the clerk was in the realm of hearsay evidence as “all the facts he deposed to was what Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) told him in chambers whereas, the Prosecution Counsel is not in anyway an employer or one of the agents but a professional, hence can not assume the position of the EFCC, the complainant in the circumstance.”
He therefore urged the court to determine the application in the defendants’ favour, saying; “facts and statues are in the defendants favour.”
Justice C. J. Anekei consequently adjourned the matter till February 17, 2020 for ruling and continuation of trial.