By Bashir Bello
KATSINA—THERE was drama,yesterday, at the Katsina State High Court as Lawal Rufai, one of the defendant alongside a former governor, Ibrahim Shema, told the court that statement tendered before the court as evidence against Shema by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, were obtained from him under duress.
Rufai, a former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, made this known through his counsel, Aliyu Ahmed.
EFCC had, in the last court sitting, tendered some bank documents as evidence against Shema to further prove its case and the prosecuting counsel, led by Chief Lateef Fagbemi(SAN), had wanted the court to admit the statements as evidence.
At yesterday’s court sitting, an EFCC operative, Abubakar Buba, told the court that Rufai willingly volunteered and signed the various statements obtained from him in 2016.
Ahmed countered the EFCC operative when he said “my client, who is the fourth witness, has told me that the statements tendered by EFCC before this court were made involuntarily. In short, my client said he made the statements under duress.
“I will, therefore, seek the indulgence of this court to opt for trial within trial.”
The presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Bako, adjourned the sitting to November 28 for the trial within trial.”
Shema, alongside three others—former Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Sani Makana; ex-ALGON Chairman, Lawal Dankaba and Rufai— are standing trial before the court over a 24-count charge of alleged misappropriation of about N11 billion of local government funds.