Court admits new evidence against Ex-AGF in ₦109bn fraud trial

The Federal High Court has admitted new evidence against former Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, in his ongoing trial for alleged N109 billion fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) disclosed this in a statement, stating that Idris, the first defendant in a 14-count charge bordering on gratification, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of over N109 billion, claimed that EFCC obtained his statement under duress, necessitating a trial-within-trial to determine the veracity of his claim.

Idris is standing trial alongside three others: his company, Godfrey Olusegun Akindele and Mohammed Kudu Usman.

During the trial, Hayatuddeen Ahmad, the first prosecution witness, told the court that Idris freely volunteered his statement to the Commission and was not pressured or deceived into doing so.

Contrary to Idris’ claim, Ahmad stated that the defendant was never promised that he would not be prosecuted by the Commission.

Under cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, Ahmad said that the defendant was cautioned and informed that the matter would proceed to court.

“There was no such deception of the promise made to the first defendant. After he was cautioned, he was told that the matter would end up in court. The defendant came with his legal representative in the person of Gbenga Adeyemi, who witnessed the statement from beginning to end. He signed to show that he understood the cautionary statement,” Ahmad said.

Idris’s statement, according to the witness, “was recorded in the Chairman’s Monitoring Unit (CMU), with a functional recording system and a chair for the convenience of the defendant. There was a table, a light and the restroom.”

He stated that “after the first defendant reported, cautionary words were written and administered to him, which he read and understood. The additional statement was in continuation of some of the issues involving investigation.”

The witness disclosed that there was an interview session involving the first, second and third defendants at the CMU, where they discussed issues regarding the investigation, noting that there was a video recording to buttress this issue to show how calm and peaceful the atmosphere of the interview at the CMU was.

Ahmad identified the cautionary statement made by the first defendant, dated May 25, 2022 and witnessed by his lawyer, and other statements dated May 26; May 31; June 1; June 6; June 10; and June 27, 2022.

He narrated that the recording was done using his official Samsung mobile phone, after which the video was processed into a DVD plate.

Upon playing the DVD in court, Ahmad easily identified the defendants and testified that Mahmud Tukur, head of CMU 2, and Mubarak Isa were witnesses during the taking of Idris’s statements.

Justice Yusuf Halilu, precising over the case, then admitted the DVD as evidence, marked as “TWT-A,” in the trial-within-trial, labelled Exhibit A.

Ahmad disclosed that the defendants benefited from a non-existent consultancy from the Office of the Accountant General during Idris’s tenure, discussing the sharing formula of the illicitly acquired funds in the video.

Following cross-examination by the first defendant’s counsel, Justice Halilu adjourned the matter until Wednesday, March 20, for the continuation of the trial-within-trial.

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