Dangabar’s Death Stalls Trial In N14bn Police Pension Fraud Case

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The trial of former director in the Police Pension Office, Mr Esai Dangabar, suffered a setback on Thursday following his death.

This came as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed a motion before Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja.

In the suit, the anti-graft agency sought to amend the charges in the criminal breach of trust and fraud to the tune of N14 billion in the police pension scheme, following the death of Dangabar who was the principal defendant and was facing charges alongside others.

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At the resumed, proceedings were stalled when the lead defence counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, announced to the court the death of Dangabar whom he said died on July 24, 2019.

In buttressing his point, Awomolo submitted the Garki Hospital death certificate of the defendant to the court and appreciated the concern and the accommodating spirit of the presiding judge, since the commencement of the trial.

“I respectfully appreciate his lordship for always giving the first defendant permission to travel for his treatment before his death. I pray for long life for his lordship,” he stated.

In his reaction, the prosecution counsel A. Atolagbe described Dangabar’s death as unfortunate and extended his condolences to his family.

He, therefore, prayed the court for more time to amend the charges since the deceased was no longer alive.

Atolagbe said, “My lord, I have seen the death certificate of the first defendant. It’s quite unfortunate.

“We will be asking for sometimes to regularise the charges since the deceased is no longer involved.”

Justice Hussein who also extended his sympathy to the family of the deceased and adjourned the case until December 5, for necessary amendments to the charges.

Court Admits Suspect’s Statements In N24bn Police Pension Fraud Case

Court Admits Suspect’s Statements In N24bn Police Pension Fraud Case
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The trial-within-trial of Veronica Onyegbula, who is standing trial along with a former director at the Police Pension Office, Esai Dangabar, for an alleged N24 billion pension fraud, continued today at the FCT High Court.

During Wednesday’s trial, the court dismissed the objection against the admissibility of Onyegbula’s statements made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Counsel to Onyegbula, E.C. Ikeji, had objected to the application of the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, to tender her statements dated February 13, 15, and 17, 2012, as well as May 2, 2102.

Testifying as the first defence witness, Ikeji’s client who is a former cashier in the Police Pension Office, had in the course of the trial challenged the admissibility of the statements, thus necessitating the need for the trial-within-trial.

The defence counsel had also argued that the statements were made “involuntarily” by the witness, and so could not be tendered in court.

Jacobs, however, countered Ikeji’s argument, citing Section 104 of the Evidence Act.

“My lord, recall that the trial-within-trial is a separate trial and I need to tender the documents for the purpose of the trial-within-trial because that is the subject matter of the trial-within-trial,” he was quoted as saying in a statement from the EFCC.

“We must prove whether the document which is the statement was taken voluntarily or not. My learned colleague can only argue on the procedure that the statements were taken and not the statements themselves; there is a need to look critically at the content of the documents in a bid to determine the voluntariness.”

After listening to the arguments, the trial judge went through the statements in contention and admitted them as Exhibits D1 to D5, respectively.

The case was consequently adjourned till October 9, 2018.

Dangabar and Onyegbula are standing trial along with Atiku Kigo, Ahmed Wada, Sani Zira, Uzoma Attang and Christian Madubuke.