Court Rejects Unsigned Documents Tendered By EFCC As Exhibit In Shema’s Trial Of N5.7bn SURE-P funds

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By Nasiru Yusuf

The Federal High Court sitting in Katsina on Monday rejected 8 vouchers attached to unsigned documents tendered by Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) as exhibits in a trial of former governor of Katsina state Ibrahim Shema.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Ibrahim  Shema, before the Federal High Court, Katsina on a 26-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N5, 776,552,396.

One of the charges against the former governor reads: “That you Ibrahim Shehu Shema whilst being the Executive Governor of Katsina State on or about the 17th February, 2014 at Katsina, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did indirectly control the sum of N502,216,400 withdrawn from Katsina State SURE-P bank account meant for peace education, advocacy and mediation programme which money you ought to have know part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit; Fraud thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.”
When the matter was called on Monday counsel to EFCC Barr. Sam Ologunorisa presented a former special adviser on SURE-P department to former governor Ibrahim Shema, Nasiru Ingawa as first prosecution witness, and sought to tender a certified true copy of 22 vouchers as exhibits before the court.

The defence counsel Elisha Kurah objected to the application noting that there is no evidence of payment for the issuance of a certified true copy of the document and some of the letters written by the witness attached to the document were unsigned or not dated.

“The letter written by the witness on voucher number 0751 dated December 15th, 2014 was unsigned. On voucher number 0887 dated December 25th 2014 there is also a document which is unsigned emanated from Nasiru Ingawa. Also attached to same voucher is also a document with an envelope of Katsina state government SURE-P dated October 31st, 2014 allegedly written by Umar Abubakar but not signed”, Mr Kurah challenged.

He subsequently pleaded to the court to reject the document, saying that it is the principle of law that a document unsigned does not have any probative value, adding that”since the narrative of the voucher is defended on the unsigned document attached to it.”

In his response, counsel to EFCC said the position of law is “relevancy is the basis of admissibility. Where the concern is certified true copy, the court must ensure they are properly certified. Since there is no single complaint or objection that it was not properly certified, the objection is premature.”

After a long heated arguement between the counsels and about an hour recess, the trial judge Justice Hadiza Shagari rejected the 8 unsigned documents tendered by EFCC and admitted the remaining 14, citing section 6 of the evidence act which said when the document is relevant it can be admissible, while a document not signed or not address to any person is inadmissible.

The judge ruled that “the document is not capable of activation within the jurisdiction of the court, hereby not admitted as evidence in this honourable court.”

The case has been adjourned to February 25th,2019 for continuation of trial and cross examination.

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