Justice Hussein Yusuf Baba of the FCT, High Court, Maitama, Abuja on Monday, May 21, 2018 granted the application of Esai Dangabar, a former director at the Police Pension Board, to travel overseas for medical checkup.
Dangabar is being prosecuted alongside six others for their complicity in the alleged N24billion fraud in the police pension office by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The others are Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira, Uzoma Cyril Attang and Christian Madubuke
Justice Hussein Yusuf Baba granted the application for the accused to travel for medical checkup after listening to the submissions of counsel to the defence, Victoria Olufunmilayo Awomolo, SAN, bearing no objection from the EFCC.
At the resumed sitting, Awomolo informed the court of a pending application dated April 6, 2018 and May 17, 2018 respectively, seeking leave of the court for her client to travel to the United States for medical checkup.
Awomolo said that the affidavit in support of her application signed by Dr. Eric Nnaji of Echo Scan, Abuja had made it clear that the accused needed to be flown abroad for extensive medical checkup. She argued that the position of the law was clear that an accused must be in good health to be able to stand trial.
“My Lord, may I be allowed to add that the first defendant has never missed any hearing of this case since it started in 2012. He has been very sick for the past three weeks, I urge my Lord to grant this request as only a healthy person can stand can stand trial”, she said.
While not objecting to the application, the prosecution counsel, A. O. Atolagbe noted that the defendant was absent on the last trial (March 15, 2018) and expressed concern over his next appearance on the next adjourned date.
Thereafter, trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness of the second defendant, Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, commenced.
Onyegbula, while being led in evidence by her counsel, E.C. Ikeji, introduced herself as a level 10 officer in Police Pension Office, residing at 3, Andora Street, Suncity Street, Abuja.
She explained how on 13 February, 2012, the Director of Finance, Police Pension Office, whom she referred to as ‘Mr. Adeyemi’ called her into his office, where she met officials of EFCC.
According to Onyegbula, one of the EFCC officials with the name, ‘Habibu Aliyu’, told her and the Director that they were under arrest with no further explanation, adding that they were pushed into an awaiting vehicle and driven to the EFCC.
Upon arrival at the EFCC, the DW1 stated that she was kept in a room unattended to for five hours before she was invited to volunteer her statement while her Director was taken to another room and released shortly after. She added that, she was detained till 16th February, 2012 after which she was forced to write nine countering statements and made to amend her signature by the PW1, Rouqawya Ibrahim and the operative, one Mr Godwin Ateb.
“On the 15th February, 2012 Mr. Godwin Ateb took me out of detention with two armed police men and went to raid my house where they found a bank account statement for Usover International Limited, belonging to my mother’s company, my international passport and some bank cheques, which the operative claimed was pension money”, Onyegbula added.
She narrated how on the morning of her release, February 17, 2012 “Gadanya alongside Habibu Aliyu, who are detectives with EFCC” gave her conditions that in order for her to be released from detention she should cooperate by being a witness against the Director in the Police Pension Office and she will go scot free and all charges against her would be dropped.
The witness also explained how she wrote the last statement that led to her release around 7 O’ clock later that evening after one Shola Toyin signed as a surety for her.
Responding, Atolagbe asked for adjournment, in order to enable Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, who is the leading the legal team to cross examination the witness.
He, however noted dramatic change in the submission of the witness saying, “My Lord this is a somersault on the initial objection, as the original objection is that she was not released when others were released, but now the issue has shifted to the dictation and involuntary statements she was made to write.”
Justice Hussein, thereafter, adjourned to June 20, 2018 for cross-examination of the DW1.