Justice A.O. Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on Wednesday adjourned till November 27 further hearing in an N8.5 billion fraud case involving Emmanuel Atewe, a former Commander of the Joint Military Task Force, JTF.
Mr Atewe, a retired major general, is standing trial alongside Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Kime Enzogu and Josephine Otuaga on a 22-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and money laundering to the tune of
The defendants allegedly conspired among themselves to defraud NIMASA of the said sum, using six companies namely Jagan Limited, Jagan Trading Company Limited, Jagan Global Services Limited, Al-Nald Limited, Paper Warehouse Limited, Eastpoint Integrated Services Limited and De-Newlink Integrated Services Limited.
At the last adjourned sitting, the second defendant, Mr Atewe, opposed the tendering of his statements in evidence by the second prosecution witness (PW) Adamu Usman, an operative of the Economic and FinancialCrimes Commission, EFCC, on the grounds that they were involuntarily obtained and that they were dictated to him.
He claimed that he was threatened by Kanu Idagu, the team leader of the Special Task Force(STF) Unit of the EFCC and that he was subjected to inhuman treatment.
The presiding Judge, however, ordered a trial-within- trial to determine the voluntariness or otherwise of the statement.
At the resumed sitting today, the prosecution counsel, Nnaemeka Omewa, asked the defendant if he had met Mr Idagu prior to his meeting with him at the EFCC, to which he answered in the negative.
“I had not met Kanu before my visit to the EFCC, but he had my picture and I know he got it from the public domain.
“Immediately he saw me, he told me I was under arrest and threatened me.
” As a military man, I had to apply soft strategy and succumb, ” he said.
Mr Atewe also claimed that the office where he wrote the statement was highly restricted and fully armed with policemen.
He further added that no one was allowed into the office while he was writing his statement.
He, however, later said that one Mike Oyadogha, his account officer in the Army, came into the office before he finished writing the statements.
When he was asked if he was granted administrative bail by the EFCC, he answered in the affirmative, saying, “I was granted bail by the EFCC , but with very stringent terms.
“They asked me to get a Level 17 Officer who resides in Lagos, and this was a deliberate effort to further detain and frustrate me.
“Even when I asked to see the Head of Operations, they did not allow me see him until after several pleas.
“When I eventually saw him, he told me to volunteer my statement, that it was the routine.
“I agreed to volunteer my statement. But while I was writing, Kanu came in and annoyingly tore all that I had written down. He said that was not what he wanted me to write.
“He read the cautionary words to me and dictated all he wanted me to write down , which I did because of the threats and the yelling.
“After writing them down, I appended my signature as a sign of protest, the way it is done in the Army.”
When asked if it wasn’t a sign of cowardice that a whole Major General chickened out at the purported yell of a mere civilian, Mr Atewe said: “No. I had to succumb because of the environment I was. Besides, I had been trained to apply soft strategy in the face of an unknown enemy.”
Consequently, Justice Faji adjourned the matter to November 27, 2018 for hearing of written addresses and responses respectively.