By Biola Adebayo
The Department of State Services, DSS, on Tuesday began the trial of one Mr John Elem, alleged to have attempted to print counterfeit Naira notes worth N20 billion.
Elem was arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The DSS’ prosecuting counsel, E.K. Ugwu, stated that the defendant violated the provisions of “the Counterfeit Currency Offences Act, 2004.”
The DSS’ Principal Officer in Charge of Investigation at the agency’s Ikoyi, Lagos office, Peter Uche, said the first prosecution witness while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, told the court that the DSS received a petition written against Edem in December 2016.
He said the said the petition, authored by one Mr Francis Okowa, was delivered to him in his office on December 7, 2016 at about 4pm by one Mr Grant from the law firm of Mr Rickey Tarfa (SAN).
According to the witness, the petitioner, a client of Rickey Tarfa’s chamber, alleged in his petition that the defendant, Edem, was plotting to print naira notes, worth N20 billion.
“Based on the petition, I went to my director and immediately a team was constituted to identify and arrest Edem.
“The following day, around 2pm, we were able to apprehend the suspect along Governor’s Drive, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi.
“The team was split into two; one to go and search his house while the other was to search his company.
“I led the team that went to his house on Banana Island in the evening of the same day
“We met someone in his house; so, we tendered a search warrant and subjected ourselves to body search by the defendant and the person in his house.
“We went into the house; we recovered items that we believe support the petition. Some of the items we recovered were 92 pieces of golden colour holograms, a textbook and handbooks on how to print currencies.
“We also recovered a manual numbering machine.”
The witness further told the judge that he took two statements from Edem on December 9 and 11, 2016, adding that though the defendant denied the allegation, the items recovered from his house supported the petitioner’s claims against him.
Justice Saidu admitted in evidence the 92 pieces of golden colour holograms, which the witness said were recovered from the closet in Edem’s master bedroom.
The judge equally admitted in evidence a textbook with the title, ‘Optical Document on Security,’ and the handbooks said to contain instructions on how to print currencies and the manual numbering machine.
The two statements by the defendant were also admitted as exhibits.
The defence lawyer, Idris Faro, sought for an adjournment to cross-examine the witness. Consequently, Justice Saidu adjourned till tomorrow for continuation of trial.