By; BUHARI B. BELLO, Jos
Hearing into the case of alleged misappropriation of N6.3billion by Jonah David Jang, former Governor of Plateau State between 2007 and 2015, and Yusuf Pam a former cashier in the office of the Secretary to Plateau State Government (SSG) continued on Tuesday with prosecution counsel calling on PW3, Mr Emmanuel Kpanja, an Assistant Manager with Zenith Bank Plc Jos branch.
PW3 told the court that as a marketer, he was aware of an account named Secretary to the State Government Cabinet and Special Services Account opened in 2007.
The witnessed said he knew Yusuf Pam (2nd accused), as the cashier in SSG office.
“I know the 2nd accused as the cashier who comes to withdraw from the account. Also, most correspondents in respect of the account was handled by the 2ndaccused”.
The witness stated that he was aware of EFCC’s call to his organisation to supply details of that account. He added that apart from that account, the 2nd accused also had a personal savings account with the bank but that he was not aware if EFCC equally made requirement of his personal account.
Witness was shown one of the letters from the bank by the prosecution counsel Rotimi Jacobs SAN who also sought to tender same through the witness but counsel 1st accused, Mike Ozokhome SAN objected to the admissibility of the document arguing that no foundation howsoever was laid by prosecution as to why PW3 is the one tendering the document.
According to counsel, “In his testimony, witness specifically told my Lord that the EFCC requested for the account. On the face of the document itself, PW3 does and is not a signatory to Zenith Bank Letter written on 15th October, 2015 which the prosecution intends to tender through him.
“@The signatories are; John Olundare and Abiodun Durokimi all of compliance department. In his evidence in chief, Pw3 told this honourable Court that he was a marketer and not a complaint officer or in the complaint department. So tendering this document and its attachments which are computer generated evidence without the necessary attestation or certification is a direct assault on section 83 and 84 of the evidence Act”Counsel further cited Supreme Court decision in the case between Okereke Vs Umuanhi 2016 LPLER 400, 35 stressing that it is the author of a document in a matter such as the one under reference that needs to tender it so he can be able to answer questions from the document.
“It is clear from the testimony of PW3 that he was a marketer and not a complaint officer. Whatever evidence he wants to give as far as the letter is concerned is hearsay evidence. I must respectfully urge my Lord to reject this document. However, in the most unlikely event that my Lord would want to admit this document, we urge my lord not to attach any weight to it”.
In his submission, S.D. Odey counsel to 2nd accused also objected vehemently to the admissibility of the letter for the same reasons advanced by counsel to 1st accused and added that a person qualifies to be a maker of a document if he is capable of taking responsibility for its contents. Counsel cited Supreme Court judgment in the case between Arab Contractors Nig. Ltd against Gillian Umanah, NWLR 2018 part 13445 at pages 346 – 347.
“We submit with due respect that the document cannot be tendered through PW3. We also urge that the document be rejected and marked as rejected” said the counsel.
In his response, prosecution counsel said that the objection by counsels to the accused shows that they did not clearly follow the witness.
“The witness clearly said he is the account officer of the account of SSG cabinet and special services. He also gave evidence that the 2nd accused was relating with him with regards to withdrawals and correspondents.
“My lord, if an account officer cannot give evidence in an account he manages in a bank, then who can?”
Counsel further stated that any official of a bank is qualified to give evidence irrespective of whether he was involved in the transaction or not citing Supreme Court decisions on cases of Kate Enterprisers Ltd and Devn Nig. Ltd NWLR 1985 part 2 page 116; Sola vs Societe General Bank, NWLR 1987 part 488 page 405 at page 424; Interdrill Nig. Ltd Vs UBA Plc 2017 NWLR part 81 and 82. In the light of the above, counsel urged the Court to reject the submissions made by counsels to the accused and admit the document.
In their short replies, counsels to the accused said that the cases cited by the prosecution are not applicable to the current situation and raised a question on the where about of the maker of the document.
“The question is where is the maker of this document? Is he dead? Section 83 of the Evidence Act says except the maker of a document is dead, no one should take responsibility of his document.
“We urge the court to consider this as useful in deciding this issue”. Both counsels maintained their position that the document be rejected.”
Justice Daniel Longji reserved ruling till Wednesday 5th of December, 2018.