A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome has debunked the trending story that he disowned a counsel representing Mr Pam, who was jointly charged to court with the former governor of Plateau State, Mr Jonah Jang as the second defendant. He says nothing of sort happened.
My attention has just been drawn to a trending story in which I was quoted as allegedly disowning one brilliant Mr. S.A.Oguntuyi, counsel for Yusuf Pam, the second defendant in a case in which the EFCC (as FRN ) jointly charged ex governor of Plateau State, David Jonah Jang and the said Pam to a High Court in Jos over alleged fraud.
Ozekhome, SAN added that Mr Wilson Uwujaren who circulated the warped report was not present in court in the first place. That record of court is there for everyone to have access to.
Below is the full statement:
“The statement credited to the EFCC spokesman, Mr Wilson Uwujaren (I had expected him to deny and disown this warped report of today’s court proceedings in Jos, Plateau State) alleged that I disowned S.A.Oguntuyi’s line of cross examination on behalf of the second defendant, Mr Yusuf Pam.With due respect, this is a dirty lie from the pit of hell. Nothing of the sort happened. Indeed, what took place as recorded by the court was the exact opposite of the tissue of lies Mr Uwujaren, who was not physically present in court, was fed with. The facts are as follows:
“1.I was privately prompting and professionally corroborating with Mr Oguntuyi, who was doing a marvelous job of effectively demolishing (like a pack of cards, after I had finished mine) the issue of outlandish lies told to the court by the EFCC witness, Mr Musa Sunday, in this joint trial. Mr Rotimi Jacob’s, SAN, counsel to the EFCC took objection, on the ground that the second defendant, Mr Pam, on whose behalf Mr Oguntuyi was cross examining Musa, was not my client.
He wondered why I should be involved in helping in the cross examination on behalf of the 2nd defendant, since he was not my client. I promptly rose up and told the presiding Judge, the honourable Justice Daniel Longji, that the trial is a joint one, with 10 out of the 12 counts involving Jang and Pam together. I submitted that the two defendants would therefore swim or sink together. The Judge ruled in my favour that I was entitled to be involved in the cross examination. He had made a similar ruling in our favour when the prosecution counsel had also objected to our cross examining EFCC witnesses during a trial-within-trial of Mr Pam, the second defendant. It is unfortunate that the entire happening on this point was grossly misrepresented. The court records which are public documents are there for anyone to view.
“I never at any point in time rose up to say “I urge the Judge to dismiss this line of questioning as it only further supports the investigation made by the EFCC and we are washing our hands off this mediocrity. If the documents are there, why are u simply beating about the bush for hours on end….at this point we ( the course for the first defendant) dissociate ourselves from this line of questioning during cross examinaion by the second defendant”.
It is clear to me that Mr Uwujaren was grossly misled by fake report from his media representatives in court who probably desire to keep their jobs Rather, what I said with a chuckle, was that the witness was wasting precious time (and Mr Oguntuyi shouldn’t bother dignifying him) in the witness’s vain attempt to use oral evidence to garnish and vary written documents already admitted as exhibits before the court, since such oral evidence was of no moment. Even attempts made by the prosecution counsel to prevent many damaging questions during the hot cross examination were rebuffed by Mr Oguntuyi and myself, who insisted that the witnesses, having finished their examination in Chief should not be shielded from the fire of cross examination.
“The Judge also ruled in our favour and told Mr Oguntuyi to continue. The entire reportage as signed by Mr Uwujaren is therefore greatly skewed and loaded with outright brazen lies which are not supported by the recorded proceedings of the court.
” 2.Mr Uwujaren credited me with saying,”for lack of a better word, the Judge must conclude the judgement on this case before his retirement by ending 2019 on a trial denovo”.
” This statement was deliberately taken out of the context in which I made it. It was when the issue of adjournment came up and the Judge told all counsel in court that he would be retiring at the end of the year and so must conclude all matters before him, including this particular trial before retiring. I mmediately got up and supported the position of trial Judge. I submitted that on our part, we are ready, willing and would all within our powers to ensure the trial is concluded before he retires.
“The reasons I gave were two-fold:
” a. I would not want the trial to start all over de novo before another Judge were the present Judge to retire without concluding the case.
“b.The journey between Abuja and Jos is quite perilous,since there are no flights, and I would not personally, at my age, want the continued frequent journeys by road between Abuja and Jos. How this altruistic statement which the presiding Judge praised,could be yanked out of context and added to my alleged (but false) disagreement with Mr Oguntuyi, beats my imagination.
“3.My humble piece of advice: let the court decide whether on the facts so far presented to the court, the EFCC has been able to present any credible criminal case against Jang and Pam. Its case cannot be helped or salvaged by deliberately twisted and slanted reports anchored on tissues of lies and spawned fairy stories of alleged events that never took place in the open court.
“Such reports cannot substitute for the dismal outing by its witnesses so far recorded before the court.”