The trial within trial to determine the voluntariness of the statements given by Waripamo Dudafa, special assistant on domestic affairs to former President, Goodluck Jonathan and
former Manager of the Yenogoa branch of Heritage Bank in Bayelsa State, Joseph Nna continued today, the 13th of February 2017 before Justice Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos. Both Defendants who are facing a 23-count charge relating to concealing the proceeds of crime had alleged that their statements to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were not given voluntarily hence the trial within trial. Mr. Dudafa had alleged that during his incarceration with the Commission, he was subjected to torture and torment. He stated that after his arrest on the 17th of April 2016, officers in the Commission were civil with him and allowed him access to his family and friends up until sometime on the 12th of May 2016 when the access was restricted and the Commission did not allow food to be brought to him. He also stated that on many of those days, he would be brought out of the cell to the Commission’s offices and left there all day without anyone attending to him. He said members of the Commission did this in order to get him to incriminate himself and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the cross-examination of Mr. Dudafa that took place today; prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo confronted Dudafa with the register of visitors and items brought for detainees of the Commission over the period Mr. Dudafa was incarcerated at the Commission which showed that an Inspector Okoduwa Aminu brought food daily for Mr. Dudafa from the 27th of April 2016 to the 9th of May 2016, the period he claimed food was withheld from him. Mr. Dudafa maintained that he could not tell what was brought for him from his cell but that he received only items that the EFCC officials allowed and or brought to him. He was also confronted with the statements he had written at the Commission and asked to show the court where he had incriminated former President Goodluck Jonathan. He stated that he had bluntly refused to do so and had told the officials that he would do so only over his dead body.
Mr. Nna began his testimony concerning his statements given at the Commission today. He stated that he was invited by the Head Office of Heritage bank in Lagos to come and explain and clarify some issues in respect of accounts, which were domiciled in the Yenegoa branch where he was branch manager and in which he was also the accounts officer. He arrived in Lagos on the 10th of May 2016 and was taken to EFCC’s offices on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi where he met with some operatives of the Commission led by Mr. Oji. He stated that he didn’t go with a lawyer as he was told his help was only needed to clarify some issues. He testified that at the Commission, he was warned to co-operate and given a piece of paper to write his statement. An official of the Commission wrote the caution at the top part of the paper and gave him to write his statement. After he had written about a page, the statement was taken to Mr. Oji who he said came to angrily tell him he was writing rubbish. He testified that Mr. Oji made some intimidating statements about how he had dealt with governors and other notable men in Nigeria and would deal with him if he doesn’t write what they want him to write. He said that other operatives around also warned him to write what was dictated to him if he wanted to go back to his job and see his family again. He stated that they seized his phone, which hasn’t been returned to him, and began to dictate what he should write. He testified that the process was such that he would explain a fact and they would disagree and tell him exactly what they wanted him to write. He testified that Mr. Oji promised not to detain him if he assists them in getting the money. He said that even the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Oyedepo was there and encouraged him to co-operate saying he would help him as he wasn’t the target, all they wanted was to get the money but they kept him for about 12 days. He stated that on some days, he would be brought out of the cell to the Commission’s offices from about 10 am till 11 pm without anyone attending to him. He stated that on his 2nd day in detention, he also wrote a statement, writing what was dictated to him on the promise that he would be released. It was on the 2nd day that he was given bail with very harsh conditions.
Mr. Nna’s counsel, Mr. Abumere sought for an adjournment at this stage in order to make the bail paper available to the court. Though the application was opposed by Mr. Oyedepo, the court was of the view that it was better to adjourn in the interest of justice. The charge has been adjourned to the 21st of February 2017 for continuation of trial within trial.