The defence team of Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court has claimed that a letter from the communications giant — MTN — was improperly certified during the embattled judge’s corruption trial at an Ikeja High Court.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Yunusa’s defence team led by Robert Clarke (SAN) raised the objection at the start of the testimony of Adekunle Ogunbadejo, a fraud analyst, working at the telecommunications company.
Yunusa, a former judge of the Lagos Division, is standing trial alongside Esther Agbo, a staff of the law chambers of Rickey Tarfa (SAN).
Yunusa is facing a four-count charge of attempted perversion of the course of justice and corruption by a public official, while Agbo is
facing a charge of offering gratification to a public official.
Clarke, referring to Sections 1(1), 1(2) and 84 of the Evidence Act during Wednesday’s proceedings, objected to the tendering of the
letter from MTN.
He said: “This document is highly defective, certification is not done by the proper authority.
“The certification here is done by the EFCC; the EFCC is performing dual roles of an investigator and prosecutor.
“If they are playing these two roles, they cannot play a third role of an umpire by certifying a document.
“This letter does not comply with the requirements for a computer-generated evidence and for these reasons, this document should be rejected.”
Aligning himself with the submissions of Clarke, John Odubela (SAN), defence counsel to Agbo, also objected to the tendering of the letter as evidence.
Odubela said: “The complainant cannot certify a document belonging to MTN, the essence of certification is to compare the document with the
“This document cannot be certified by the EFCC who is a complainant in this case.”
Odubela noted that the National Judicial Council had held a similar view when the EFCC was a party in a proceeding before it.
He said: “My Lord, in an NJC proceeding in which the EFCC was a party before it, Justice Ayoola rejected a document from a bank which
was certified by the EFCC.
“This document does not meet the requirement laid down in Section 84 of the Evidence Act.
“The document sought to be tendered are documents generated by computers.
“There is no certification to show whether the computer was in good condition or not and the person who generated the document is supposed to certify it.
“We submit that this is an inadmissible document particularly when this is a criminal trial.”
Responding, Wahab Shittu, the lead counsel for the EFCC, insisted that the letter from MTN was properly certified.
Shittu said: “Their objection is misconceived, on the face of the document and the last page of the document there is a certificate of identification
duly attested to by MTN.
“That knocks out their objection and same is reflected on page 254 of the proof of evidence.
“The document sought to be tendered was certified by the EFCC who is the custodian of the original document. It is a letter written
by MTN and addressed to the Deputy Director, Investigations, of the EFCC.
“If the original resides with the EFCC, then EFCC has a right to produce the Certified True Copy as the custodian of the original document, see Section 104 of the Evidence Act.”
The EFCC counsel noted that the admission of a document by law is governed by relevance.
He said: “If My Lord looks at the charge, what is sought to be tendered are call logs. This is the meat of our case, the substance of our
Justice Sherifat Solebo adjourned the case until October 22 and October 23 for ruling on the arguments and continuation of trial.
NAN reports that according to the EFCC, Yunusa had constant and confidential communications with Tarfa, who was handling
three lawsuits marked FHC/L/CS/714/2015, FHC/L/CS/715/2015 and FHC/L/CS/716/2015 before him.
It also alleged that Yunusa collected N1.5 million bribe from Tarfa for the purpose of giving favourable rulings and judgments in the cases.
The judge is also being accused of receiving N750, 000 from Joseph Nwobike (SAN) between March 2015 and September, 2015 to get “favourable” judgment in some cases.
Agbo, the second defendant, who is an employee of Rickey Tarfa and Co., on May 14, 2015 paid the N1.5 million allegedly from Tarfa into Yunusa’s UBA account no. 1005055617.
The offences violated Sections 64(1)(a) and 97(3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.