A courtroom drama on Tuesday stalled the cross-examination of prosecution witness, Abu Sule in the case involving a former governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, as prosecution counsel, Festus Keyamo, revealed how the former governor’s son had allegedly gone on the trail of the prosecution witness.
Ohakim is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly making a cash payment of $2.2 million for a piece of land at Plot No. 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, otherwise known as No. 60, Kwame Nkuruma Street, Asokoro, Abuja.
According to the EFCC, Keyamo, addressing Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja, said that the second prosecution witness Sule, who is the Managing Director of Tweenex Consociate H.D. Limited, phoned him about 9p.m. yesterday and revealed that Ohakim’s second son, Emeka Ohakim, had visited Sule’s office in Asokoro to inquire from some individuals about his home address.
According to Keyamo, Ohakim allegedly approached three people: Okon (a driver), Akpabor (a driver) and Shola (an architect), in an effort to obtain Sule’s home address.
“We don’t want to distract the court from this trial” he continued. “But I thought it goes beyond the issue of counsel to counsel because it touches on the administration of justice and protection of the witness concerned.
‘‘We will apply, at this stage, that a word of caution and concern go out. If it repeats itself, we shall bring appropriate application before the court over the development.’’
In his response, lead counsel to the defendant, Chris Uche, expressed shock at what he described as Keyamo’s outburst, saying that the matter should have been discussed at another gathering rather than in the open.
According to him, ‘‘I have no doubt that what the prosecution has said amounts to destabilizing the defence. Keyamo had been sitting directly behind us for more than one hour before the case was called, but he didn’t raise the matter. He also saw the defendant eyeball to eyeball when he came to our seats, yet he didn’t discuss the matter. Now, it is on the Internet and it will be in the presstomorrow.’’
The defence counsel, who further urged the court to dismiss the story as unfounded, said the prosecution could file an application on the matter as he had mentioned to the court.
After listening to both counsels, Justice Adeniyi, who was visibly disturbed about the allegation, said there was no harm if the prosecution had hinted the defendant and his counsels about the incident.
‘‘I am a bit disturbed. It is a very serious allegation. We can’t deny the fact that it also touches on the defendant himself. Alternatively, you could have asked to seek audience with me in chambers in the presence of the defence counsel and the defendant,’’ he said.
The defence counsel argued further that the prosecution had failed to handle the matter properly, adding that his action was not in consonance with a traditional belief that says an elder should report any act of misconduct by a child to his father.
In his reaction, Keyamo said: ‘‘I find it extremely objectionable. He has said things about my person, whereas I have never said anything about him. I will not treat an issue of threat to life in private! There is no rule of legal practice that says such an issue should be discussed in private. It depends on my judgment.’’
Justice Ademola adjourned the case to Wednesday, January 27, 2016 for continuation of trial.