N22.8bn Laundering: Court Grants Amosu Access To Court Records

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Thursday granted the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd) and two other officers of the Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni, currently standing trial over alleged N22.8 billion money laundering charge access to court’s records.The presiding judge, Mohammed Idris’ order was sequel to a request by the defendants’ lawyers asking that court’s record of proceedings should be made available to them in order to effectively cross-examine and investigative officer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Tosin Owobo currently giving evidence in the case.Arguing on the request, Amosu’s lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), drew the court’s attention to a letter dated March 29, 2018, wherein he was asking that the Certified True Copy (CTC) of record of proceedings be made available to him.He said: “On March 29, 2018, we had written the court applying for the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the proceedings as recorded by the court. I will be applying that the court should direct the registrar to provide us with the CTC of the proceedings. We want to study it for us to properly cross-examine the witness”.He later sought an adjournment of the matter sequel to the request.Other defence lawyers aligned themselves with Ayorinde’s submissions. In particular, Adigun’s lawyer, Norrison Quakers (SAN) citing Section 396 (5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 said an adjournment is permitted when the hearing of a matter on a daily basis is not practicable.He added that the defence needs to compare their notes with the court’s record for a proper examination of Owobo, who was described as a star witness of the prosecution.Responding, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, faulted the request, saying the defendants had been afforded requisite time and facilities to prepare for their defence.“The defendants were served with the proof of evidence on June 23, 2016. During proceedings, the defence was taking notes painstakingly and as such it cannot be said that records of proceedings were not available to them. It would have been a different thing if the defence lawyers have not participated in the proceedings. The application is not in the interest of justice and I urged the court to refuse it”, he said.However, in a Bench ruling, Justice Idris overruled Oyedepo’s objection and granted the defendants permission to access the court’s record. Thereafter,Justice Idris adjourned further hearing in the case till May 2,2018 by 1pm.
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