Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, Gudu, on October 11, 2017 overruled the objection of Jolly Nyame’s counsel, challenging the admissibility of his statement of account domiciled with Zenith Bank, as well as account opening documents, which the prosecution sought to tender as exhibit against him.
Nyame is currently in the dock as the fourth defence witness, in a N1.64 billion fraud charge brought against him by the EFCC that began in 2007. He was on October 4, 2017 confronted with the statements by the prosecution, led by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN; but his counsel, Olalekan Ojo, urged the court to discountenance the request of the prosecution, as he objected to its admissibility.
“The documents were not made by the defendant, and so do not meet the requirements of Section 83 of the Evidence Act,” Ojo said, arguing that the documents could only be presented through the bank official that created them, and not through the defendant.
Jacobs had, however, countered his argument, noting that the certification on the document “was sufficient evidence to show compliance with the Evidence Act”.
“Moreover, the defendant did not contest that the statements were not from his bank account, neither did he contest his photo and signature on them,” Jacobs said.
Delivering ruling today, Justice Banjoko noted that: “The value of the statement is in the transaction in it; and therefore, proper foundation is seen to have been well laid.”
“The objection is overruled,” the trial judge held, and accepted the documents as Exhibit SS.
With the objection overruled, Jacobs continued with cross-examination of Nyame, probing him on transactions in the statement, which focused on various deposits into his account while he was governor of Taraba State between 1999 and 2007.
While admitting that “from the face value of the documents, the signature is mine”, Nyame denied knowing one A. Aminu, who according to the bank statements made cash payments of N1,340,000 on October 2, 2001; N2,048,000 in December 2001; N2,400,000 and N3 million on June 21, 2002; and N9 million on July 12, 2002 into his account.
“My lord, it’s a long time ago, and I can’t even recollect knowing Aminu, it’s a long time, I can’t remember who he is,” Nyame said.
Jacobs further confronted him with details in the statement, which indicated that at various times, Buba Joda, who Nyame had earlier told the court was his Special Assistant, deposited various sums of money in the account.
Reading from the statement, which was also perused in the dock by Nyame, Jacobs pointed out lodgements made by Joda into Nyame’s account, including N10 million GTB cheque on April 24, 2003; N1m and N7,981,700 on April 25, 2003; N22,932,000 and N14,311,000 on May 15, 2003.
Jacobs, thereafter, sought to remind the court that Nyame had under cross-examination at a previous sitting, told the court that he “asked Joda to be in charge of security money” for the state.
While positing that though he had earlier told the court that Joda “was my Senior Special Assistant”, Nyame told the court that he could not remember telling the court that he asked Joda to be in charge of security funds.
“I need to be guided by my record, but I remember saying he is my special assistant and he handled a lot of responsibilities,” he said, adding that “I remember telling my lord that my staff keep records of security spending, but I cannot remember who I said that day”.