Efforts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to play what it claimed was the audio recording of conversations between erstwhile Senator Shehu Sani and his accuser, Alhaji Sani Dauda, were unsuccessful yesterday due to some technical hitches experienced with the gadgets.
Sani is facing trial before a Federal High Court in Abuja for allegedly obtaining $25,000 from Dauda, a businessman, under false pretence.
The former lawmaker was said to have claimed that the money would be used to bribe judges in a case for which Dauda’s in-law was arrested by the police.
Dauda, who is the Chairman of ASD Motors Limited, had told the court that Sani later returned the money on learning that the businessman had petitioned the EFCC.
The complainant also told the court that he recorded the conversations between him and Sani when he (the defendant) returned the money and begged him (Dauda) for forgiveness.
On October 21, 2020, the prosecution tendered the $25,000 cash, which it claimed Sani returned to Dauda on learning that the case had been reported to the anti-graft agency.
After tendering the money through its 10th witness, Bako Aliyu, the prosecution promised to play before the court the audio conversations Dauda had secretly recorded while speaking with Sani.
But the prosecution could not play any of the four computer discs, which it said were in Hausa and English.
When the first compact disc was played in the open court, people were heard conversing in Hausa.
Aliyu, who is also an investigator with the EFCC, told the court that it was the conversation was between Sani and Dauda, but was silent on what they were saying.
At the prompting of the prosecuting lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, Aliyu inserted the second disc, which he said contained the English translation of the Hausa conversations in the earlier disc.
But the second disc failed to play.
The witness fumbled with the disc player for some minutes, yet it failed to function.
At a point, he ejected the disc, robbed it against his jacket and re-insert it into the disc player, but without success.
On realising that the delay was consuming the court’s time, Justice Inyang Ekwo told the prosecution to suspend that part of the proceedings and proceed with further examination of the witness.
The judge said he would allow the prosecution the opportunity, at the end of its case, to recall Aliyu to play the audio discs to the hearing of the court.
He hoped the prosecution would have been able put its house in order by then
In his oral testimony, Aliyu told the court that investigators recovered a pro forma invoice of N17.5 million, dated December 23, 2019, allegedly issued to Sani by ASD Motors for the sale of Peugeot 508 Executive.
The witness said there was no evidence that the defendant made any payment to ASD Motors on any car purchase.
He also said ASD Motors did not transact business in U.S dollars and that it was the company’s Managing Director that was responsible for the sale of vehicles and not Dauda.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer, Abdul Ibrahim (SAN), Aliyu said the defendant never admitted the alleged offence throughout investigation and in the different statements he wrote.
“He was detained for over 25 days, but he never admitted to the offence,” the witness said, adding that investigators did not question everyone that was mentioned in the case.
He said investigators orally questioned former EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu but did not question Ismaila Isa Futual and Ambassador Shinkafi because they felt it was unnecessary.
The witness said he did not witness when the defendant allegedly collected the $25,000 from Dauda and when he purportedly returned the money.
According to him, the money that was tendered through him as exhibit was what Dauda brought and not by the defendant.
On why the written petition bore the same date with the day Dauda took the money to the EFCC, the witness said the investigation pre-dated the written petition.
He said investigation into the case was commenced by the EFCC upon an oral complaint by Dauda, but the complaint was latter reduced to a written form for the purpose of being used in court.
The trial continues on March 16 for further cross-examination of the prosecution’s witness