Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has granted a former Head of Service of the Federation, Stephen Oronsaye, who is standing trial for a N2 billion pension fraud, the permission to travel to India for medicals and to return for continuation of his trial in January 2018.
Oronsaye is standing trial along with Osarenkhoe Afe, managing director, Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited, and both are alleged to be complicit in several contract awards during his tenure as HoS.
Ade Okeaya-Inneh, SAN, lead counsel for Oronsaye at the proceeding of December 12, 2017, moved the motion dated November 11, 2017 and filed on same day, applying that he be granted the said permission.
In granting the application, the trial judge ruled that: “The DCI litigation of the Federal High Court, shall release the international passport of the defendant through his counsel, and he is permitted to travel to India from now till on or before January 31, 2018 and return his passport to the DCI pending the determination of the criminal charge”.
Earlier in the course of proceeding, Justice Kolawole upheld the objection of Oluwole Aladedoye, counsel for Afe, challenging the admissibility of a document which the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, sought to tender at the last sitting of December 5, 2017.
The document, which included the audit report of the Office of the HoS, made by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, was in response to the request of the investigative team probing the pension fraud in the HoS office. The prosecution had sought to tender the document, which came with a cover letter dated June 25, 2016 and signed by the Auditor General of the Federation.
Aladedoye, in raising an objection to the admissibility of the evidence to be tendered, cited Section 83 of the Evidence Act, noting that while he did not object to the admissibility of the letter which was signed, he “objected to the admissibility of the accompanying document as it has no author, and was no signed by anyone”.
Invariably, the trial judge admitted the cover letter as Exhibit 3, but marked the accompanying audit report as ‘Rejected Exhibit A’.
A set of evidence, which included bank documents from Zenith Bank, relating to the financial transactions linked to Innovative Solutions Limited, Kate Chinwe Obikwe, Ibrahim Abdulkareem, and Uptrack Communications, which were deemed complicit in the pension fraud, were also objected to. The defence argued that the documents dated January 13, 2011 and June 13, 2016 did not meet the requirements of the Evidence Act, as it relates to bankers note.
The prosecution had sought to tender the documents through its witness, Roukayya Ibrahim, an EFCC operative. Subsequently, the prosecution withdrew the documents.
Meanwhile, the trial judge has adjourned the case to February 20, 21 and 22, 2018.