BY INNOCENT ANABA
LAGOS—There was drama at a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, as Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia declared an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, witness hostile.
The witness, Ojo Agbor, was testifying in the trial of a former Aviation Minister, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode for alleged money laundering when the prosecutor, Mr. Festus Keyamo, applied to the court to declare him a hostile witness, saying Agbor’s testimony was totally different from what is in his statement to the EFCC.
The lawyer also alleged that the defence had “coached” the witness on what to say in court, saying “He has been coached. That is why he has been running away despite different invitations to testify. We had to write his director to produce him this morning.”
After the judge declared Agbor a hostile witness, prosecution accused the witness of deliberately lying to the court, alleging that the witness and Fani-Kayode had communicated through phone prior to yesterday’s proceedings.
“Your phone record will show that you have called the accused person or the accused person has called you,” Keyamo said. The witness replied: “He has not called me.”
Keyamo said: “I want to put it to you that you are here today (yesterday) to tell deliberate lies,” to which Agbor said “No.”
Keyamo also alleged that Fani-Kayode was giving the witness signals on what to say during proceedings.
When Fani-Kayode turned to gaze at Keyamo in a look of denial, Keyamo said: “The accused person is looking menacingly at me. The way he is looking at me is like we are dragging one girlfriend.”
The witness said the statement he made to EFCC was not voluntary.
According to him, the commission’s officials asked him to lie otherwise he would be charged along with Fani-Kayode.
Agbor began his testimony by saying someone else, a property manager, gave him various amounts money to pay into Fani-Kayode’s account. The money, he said, was proceeds of a property sale.
He said he was given N3million and other amounts by a man he called Kola.
But in his statement to the EFCC, which he read out in court on Keyamo’s prompting, he stated that Fani-Kayode gave him all the money directly.