It was gathered that the Federal High Court in Lagos Monday ordered a trial-within-trial to determine if a former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Gooluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, made a voluntary statement to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge made the order after Dudafa, through his lawyer Gboyega Oyewole, claimed that the commission “induced” him to make the statement.
EFCC arraigned Dudafa before Justice Mohammed Idris on 23-counts of conspiracy and concealment of crime proceeds.
He and Iwejuo Joseph Nna (alias Taiwo A. Ebenezer and Olugbenga Isaiah) were accused of conspiring to conceal proceeds of crime amounting to over N1.6billion on June 11, 2013. They pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
During trial Monday, EFCC’s prosecution Oyedepo Rotimi, sought to tender in evidence a statement made by Dudafa, but Oyewole objected on the basis that it was not made voluntarily.
He said: “We’re contesting the voluntariness of the document. He (Dudafa) was induced to make the statement in custody after eight days in detention. The statement was made involuntarily.
“The first defendant contends that the confessional statement was not made voluntarily. He seeks a trial within trial to determine the voluntariness of the statement,” he said.
Oyewole also objected to the tendering of an asset declaration form purportedly completed by Dudafa while in EFCC custody.
Nna’s lawyer, Sunday Abumeri, also claimed his client did not make his statement to EFCC voluntarily.
He said: “The second defendant informed me that he was lured and induced into making the statement. He was told that he would be released if he made the statement as it is.”
While testifying, an EFCC operative, Orji Kalu, said Dudafa was about to leave the country when men of the Department of State Services (DSS) arrested and handed him over to the commission.
He said Dudafa laundered the funds through various bureau de change (BDC) operators who changed the dollars he gave them and paid their naira equivalent to his accounts.
“Prior to his arrest on April 17, 2016, the authorities developed intelligence on the first accused regarding funds belonging to the Federal Government, especially funds coming from the Office of the National Security Adviser, which he received.
“We also had intelligence on racketeering activities which he was carrying out using his position as Senior Special Assistant to the President on Domestic Affairs. These proceeds were received in cash and were subsequently given in dollars to some staff who took them to the BDCs.
“If he gives them the dollars, he’ll inform the BDC the bank where the naira equivalent should be paid. He followed the stages of money laundering: placement (through staff who took the dollars to the BDCs), layering (through the payment of the monies into accounts he manages), and integration (usage).
“The EFCC then wrote DSS and Dudafa was watch-listed. On April 17, he was intercepted and referred to our office. I was the one who received him. He filled an assets declaration form,” Orji said.
Justice Idris adjourned until December 14 for ruling on admissibility of the assets declaration form, and for trial-within-trial.