witness tells court

A prosecution witness on Tuesday, told an FCT High Court how a Federal High Court judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who is standing trial before the court alongside his wife, Adebowale and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Joe Odey Agi, denied him (the witness) bail and also demanded a bail of N25 million from him by proxy.

The witness Dr Sani Shaibu Teidi, who appeared before Justice Jude Okeke as the sixth prosecution witness, in the case brought against the federal judge and others by the Federal Government, informed the court that he was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Ademola in 2013.

Teidi, who is the Director, Finance and Account in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF), informed in his evidence-in chief that he carried out a reform in the OAGF as he digitalised the pension unit through which the unit was computerised.

According to him, as a result of this, a lot of discoveries were made in the payment of pension, saying that it was discovered that funds meant for pensions and gratuities were moved from various accounts for the purpose for which it was not budgeted and the money running into N36 billion disappeared from the account to various individuals.

He disclosed that on the discoveries, he notified the EFCC and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), saying that ONSA set up a committee, which was headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police.

The committee, he said, investigated the case and submitted its report to the Senate Committee investigating pension fraud. The Senate committee directed that the funds be recovered and those involved be charged to court, adding that the recommendation was submitted to the government.

According to him, he was the principal witness at the senate committee sitting, adding that he requested for a report of the committee after it completed its assignment.

“After the report, I was charged to court by EFCC. Before the charge, I was invited and asked to brief them on what happened to N4.4 billion and the N7.6 billion missing. This I submitted to the EFCC; the accounts used to move the money,” he said, adding that he knew the signatory to the account used to move the funds.

He stated that the anti-corruption commission charged him before Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on offence bordering on unlawful removal of pension fund totally N4.5 billion alongside others.

Testifying further, Teidi said he was granted bail by the court to the tune of N10 million with one surety, who had to be a resident of FCT.

The PW6 further disclosed that the case started in 2011 with Godwin Obla (SAN) as the prosecutor and that by 2012, “EFCC came in with an application of what they called proper management and the case was withdrawn.”

He added that the case was later taken to Federal High Court 6 before Justice Ademola, who is the first defendant in the ongoing trial, where he and one other and some companies were arraigned.

The witness stated that sometime in 2013, he was called by the EFCC operative who investigated the case that the matter was coming up before Justice Ademola, saying that he told the investigator that he had travelled to his village.

“He told me that he was going to communicate this to the court, which he did. On the third day, however, I discovered that the court had issued a bench warrant for my arrest,” he stated, adding that on discovering this, he went to meet the EFCC investigator to challenge him and asked if he did not inform the court of his journey.

The witness further told the court that he went to the court where he was remanded in prison, saying that, “after I was remanded, someone now pressurised my wife that unless she was able to pay the sum of N25 million, I would die in prison.”

Dr Teidi stated that he then petition the then Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to transfer his case from Justice Ademola to any other judge in the Federal High Court.

He further told the court that when he returned to court, Justice Ademola confronted him with the petition, asking if he wrote it, which he replied in the affirmative, adding that the judge refused to grant him bail and adjourned the matter indefinitely.

Still in his evidence-in-chief, Dr Teidi said after pressure from his counsel, Justice Ademola later granted him bail in the sum of N500 million with two sureties in the sum of N1 billion.

Asked if he petitioned the police on the purported caller demanding money for his bail, the witness said he did not do that, adding that he was able to get the photograph of the said Kingsley O from the bank.

Answering another question, the prosecution witness stated that he did not write the police and EFCC but communicated this to the Department of State Services (DSS), adding that the appeal court only varied the issue of suretyship and the amount.

He denied that the Federal Government accused him of siphoning over N4 billion in the course of discovering fraud in the pension unit, saying that he was only charged for enriching himself by false pretense to the tune of N560 million.

While being cross-examined by the counsel for the second defendant, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), Teidi declared that he was never a friend of the DSS, adding that, “I have never written any petition against the first defendant (Justice Ademola) to the DSS. I was only called to make a statement by the DSS and never had any connection with DSS since being released from prison.”

After the completion of cross-examination,, Justice Okeke thereafter adjourned till today for continuation of the case.

He, however, stated that he did not have any grouse against the first defendant despite his denying his application for bail though his case was bailable.

With the withdrawal of Chief Okey, he told the court that he applied for the variation of his bail condition, which was never approved, saying that, “since Chief Okey withdrew his document, it was left with Igbelimeta. Since it could not meet up with N1billion, we applied for variation. He (Justice Ademola) turned it down, saying that N1billion was not too much and that we should go and perfect the bail condition.”

Having spent one year, two months in prison, he said he had no option than to approach the Court of Appeal, which, however, granted him bail with one surety with property worth N100million within FCT.

This, he stated, was perfected and he deposited his international passport with the court, adding that the appellate court ordered that his case before Justice Ademola be transferred to another Federal High Court judge.

A certified true copy of the appellate court’s judgment was tendered by the prosecution as exhibit and was admitted having not been objected to by the defendants’ counsel.

Dr Teidi informed the court that Justice Bello had order temporary forfeiture if his propert, including Bridina Hotel, Homo Filling Station and AY Ted Filling Station, submitting that when he came back from prison, he discovered that Justice Ademola had ordered permanent forfeiture of the property.

He further told the court that he appeared before the National Judicial Council based on the petition written by his wife against Justice Ademola for remanding him in prison indefinitely.

Under cross examination by the counsel for Justice Ademola, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), Teidi told the court that he was never present when the first defendant made an order for forfeiture of his property, adding that it was not his grievance that Justice Ademola remanded him in prison and even made him to stay there despite perfecting his bail condition.

He told the court that he was never aware that any document presented for his bail was forged, adding that he never received any phone call from Justice Ademola.

Answering a question under cross examination from Jeph Njikonye, counsel for Joe Agi (SAN), the witness told the court that he did not have any contact with the said Kingsley O, who demanded for bribe, adding that the said Kingsley O only contacted his wife.

He also told the court that the DSS did not promise to drop the charge against him in the Federal High Court if he was able to nail Justice Ademola in the ongoing trial.

Njikonye tendered a certified true copy of the amended charge brought against Teidi and others dated 16 March, 2013. Since there was no objection to this by other counsel, including the prosecution counsel, the court admitted it as exhibit.

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