N14b police pension scam: What happened in court on Tuesday

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The trial of Esar Dangabar and six others in the alleged N14 billion police pension scam was Tuesday stalled in an FCT Court, following his ill health.

Dangabar is among seven persons standing trial before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf.

Others charged along with him are Ahmed Wada; Atiku Kigo; Veronica Onyegbulam; Sani Zira; Uzoma Attang and Christian Madubuike.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dragged them to court over their complicity in the alleged N14 billion police pension fund.

Baba-Yusuf had on April 3, ordered continuation of hearing following his dismissal of the objection raised by Onyegbulam, through her counsel, Earnest Ikeji, on the admissibility of some of the statements she made to EFCC.

The objection led to a trial within trial, in which the judge ruled that Onyegbulam, the fourth defendant, was unable to prove that she was forced into making the statements and subsequently admitted the contentious statements as exhibits.

At the resumed hearing, the fourth prosecution witness, Mustapha Gandaya, had commenced giving evidence when Dangabar called the attention of his counsel, Chief Adegbiyega Awomolo, SAN.

Awomolo then to sought the court’s permission to allow Dangabar, to exit the courtroom for him to get a short rest while he (Awomolo) hold forth for him.

Reacting, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, raised concerns on this, saying that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) does not make provision for such.

In view of the situation, Awomolo applied for an adjournment.

According to him, he would have loved proceedings to continue in the absence of his client while he held on for him.

He said, but for the fact that there was no provision for such in the ACJA, which he said did not prohibit it either he was praying for an adjournment.

Counsel for other defendants did not object to the application for adjournment made by Awomolo.

On this development, Justice Baba-Yusuf noted that despite the fact that Dangabar is facing health challenge and still came to court to face trial showed good faith on his part.

The judge, therefore, adjourned the case until May 27 for continuation of hearing.

Earlier, while giving testimony, Gandaya, who investigated the police pension scam, told the court that EFCC invited Onyegbulam on Feb. 14, 2012, and asked her to file an assets declaration form.

He alleged that Onyegbulam stated in the form that the cash she had in the bank was N300,000, while she had N100,000 at hand, and that 28 questions where contained in the form.

Gandaya informed the court further that Onyegbulam stated that while she had only a plot of land in Umuahia and no other property.

He added that the anti-corruption commission wrote a letter to EcoBank to furnish it with Onyegbulam’s bank statement and an account opening package.

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