The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has denied a claim by the immediate past Accountant General of the Federation (AG-F), Ahmed Idris that a non-prosecution agreement exists between him and the agency.
The EFCC is prosecuting Idris and three others on a 14-count charge, marked: CR/199/2022 in which they are accused of fraudulently diverting public funds estimated at N109 billion.
The three others are Geoffrey Akindele (a Technical Assistant to Idris) Mohammed Kudu Usman (a director in the office of the AG-F) and a firm linked with Idris – Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited.
An official of the EFCC, Hayatudeen Ahmed issued the denial on Thursday at the resumption of proceedings in the trial.
The court is currently conducting a trial-within-trial in the case to ascertain the voluntariness or otherwise of the extra-judicial statements made to investigators by the defendants.
Idris had, in an extra-judicial statement he made before EFCC’s investigators on May 25, 2022, claimed that he elected to cooperate with the EFCC officials and gave them all the information they wanted because he was under the belief and assumption that they were not going to be used against him in court.
While cross-examining Ahmed (who is the prosecution’s first witness in the trial-within-trial), Idris’ lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN) said his client told him he was hoodwinked into making the statements after the investigators allegedly assured him that he would not be prosecuted.
Responding, Ahmed said Idris was neither hoodwinked, deceived nor given any assurance that he would not be prosecuted should he say all he knew about the case.
“There was no assurance to him (Idris) that, if he makes the statements, he will not be prosecuted,” Ahmed said
The witness added that EFCC’s investigators, in line with the agency’s tradition, administered the words of caution to the ex-AG-F, telling him about his right to either make a statement or not because anything said shall form evidence before the court.
Uche equally said Idris was not accompanied by his lawyer on January 22, 2022, when he visited the EFCC and that the investigators asked him to write, in the statement he made that day that he elected on his own to waive his right to the presence of his lawyer, a claim the witness also denied.
The witness said Idris was allowed to go home on self-recognition after he made his statement on that date and was not detained.
Uche then asked the witness to look at the statement Idris made on May 16, 2022, and claimed the investigators also asked him to waive his right to a lawyer
Responding, the witness said: “We did not tell him anything. We gave him the options and he made his choice.”
Ahmed also denied Uche’s claim that Idris was deceived into making statements because investigators assured him that he was not the target and that the targets were the Finance Minister and the governors of the states receiving derivation funds.
Uche showed Ahmed the statement made by Idris on May 25 2022 and asked him to read part of the last page, which the witness read, and in which Idris claimed to have cooperated with the EFCC investigators because he was under the belief and assumption that none of the information got from him would be used in court.
Responding, the witness said although the statement was made after an interview session held with Idris and the other defendants, the ex-AG-F was not promised that he would not be prosecuted.
Earlier, while being led in evidence by the prosecuting lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Ahmed insisted that Idris made his statements, over eight in all, in a conducive environment voluntarily and without any inducement or coercion.
The prosecution also tendered a video recording of an interview session held with the defendants by the investors, before the making of their statements.
Although Uche and other defence lawyers objected to the admissibility of the video, Justice Haliru Yusuf admitted it and allowed Jacobs’ request that the video be placed in court.
The video was played, showing the first three defendants interacting with some officials of the EFCC in a relaxed mood. But the audio was not too audible.
When asked by Jacobs to identify those in the video, the witness did.
Ahmed also spoke about what the defendants spoke about and why the interview session was recorded.
He said the interview session was held for the three defendants to explain to the investigators the formula adopted in sharing the proceeds of the alleged crime.
He said they were invited to explain the sharing formula adopted for the money involved in the case.
At the conclusion of Ahmed’s testimony, the court adjourned till March 20 for the prosecution to call its second witness in the ongoing trial-within-trial.