The ongoing trial of a former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex S. Badeh (rtd), by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), continued on Tuesday before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, with further cross-examination of Mustapha Yerima, prosecution witness and Managing Director, Ryte Builders Nigeria Limited, who had allegedly assisted him (Badeh) in procuring and constructing several choice properties within the Abuja Metropolis.
While being cross-examined by counsel to the first defendant, Akin Olujimi, SAN, Yerima told the court that he had been invited severally by the Commission to answer questions regarding his knowledge of monies allegedly spent at the instruction of Badeh.
Yerima, who had made five separate statements to the EFCC, maintained that the contents of his statements were accurate, except in instances of minor corrections and/or omissions.
An attempt by the defence counsel to draw parallels between the witness’ extra-judicial statements and oral testimony was sharply objected to by the prosecution counsel, Tayo Olukotun, who stated that the line of cross-examination using those statements as basis, without admitting them in evidence, was a calculated attempt to make the witness contradict himself.
He, therefore, prayed the court to compel the defence counsel to admit the witness’ extra judicial statements as exhibits.
After listening to arguments by both parties, Justice Abang ruled that the defence must tender the extra-judicial statements in evidence.
“I agree with the prosecution counsel that the essence of the defence’s questioning him on his evidence in chief in comparison to his extra- judicial statements is to have the witness contradict himself. As such, it wouldn’t matter the answer given by the witness. Objection is hereby sustained. No party will be prejudiced if the statements are tendered in evidence,” Justice Abang said.
The statements were, therefore, tendered in evidence by the defence and marked as exhibits D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5 respectively.
Speaking further, Yerima said: “In all my statements relating to the procurement of the land, I am describing the same process in which I was involved.
‘‘Any contradictions are due to the fact that I did not have all the relevant documents available to me at the different times I made my statements. I had to rely on my memories of events which happened back in 2013.
“It is my evidence that PW1, Air Commodore Salisu Abdullahi Yushau (rtd), gave me the sum of N650m as the cost of the land. I paid this to the owner of the land in one installment.
“Anytime he (Yushau) is engaging us on such assignments, he keeps telling us that it is for his boss (Badeh).”
The matter has been adjourned to June 15, 2016 for further cross- examination of PW4 and continuation of trial.
Badeh is standing trial alongside Iyalikam Nigeria Limited for allegedly abusing his office as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), by using the dollar equivalent of the sum of N1.4billion removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force to purchase properties in choice areas of Abuja between January and December, 2013.