The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, on Monday refused to admit some documents, including payment vouchers, tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and others.
The EFCC is prosecuting the former SGF on amended 10 counts bordering on conspiracy and fraud for allegedly benefiting illegally from the approval of N544m for the “removal of invasive plant species” and simplified irrigation in the North-East region of the country.
Others with whom Lawal is being prosecuted by the EFCC are, his brother, Hamidu David Lawal; a director of Rholavision Engineering Limited; an employee of the company, Sulaiman Abubakar and the Managing Director of Josmon Technologies Limited, Apeh John.
Two companies, Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited are being prosecuted alongside the four other defendants.
In his ruling on the admissibility of documents tendered by the prosecution through the first prosecution witness, Hamza Adamu, Justice Jude Okeke held on Monday that the payment vouchers and other accompanying documents tendered by the EFCC were not admissible.
He held that for any public documents to be admitted, they must meet the provision of Section 104 of the Evidence Act, 2011 by being certified.
He ruled that the documents were not admissible because they were not certified, adding that the essence of certification was to ensure accuracy of documents tendered in evidence.
He dismissed the prosecution’s contention that the rejected documents were single document since they were attached to a certified copy.
But the judge added in his ruling that it was the duty of the court to examine all the documents tendered to determine whether they were admissible or not.
He ruled, “I have examined the bundle of the documents and it consisted of original documents with attachments of uncertified ones, a total of 17 documents.
“The documents are bearing different dates. Besides this, it is also numbered as different exhibits. The mere fact that there are stapled together does not make them one document.”
Out of the 17 documents tendered, the judge admitted seven original copies and rejected 10 which were photocopies and not certified.
Justice Okeke then adjourned the case till today (Tuesday) for continuation of trial.