A witness, Mr. Peter Achuneni, on Tuesday told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos how the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), invited the children of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Haruna Jauro, while interrogating their father over allegations of fraud.
Achuneni further claimed that among Jauro’s children interrogated by the anti-graft agency was a six-year-old boy.
Jauro is facing trial over an alleged fraud of N304.1m brought against him by EFCC.
The ex NIMASA DG is standing trial alongside Dr. Dauda Bawa and Thlumbau Enterprises Limited.
Jauro’s lawyer, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, brought in Achuneni to support his client’s case in a trial-within-trial which Justice Olatoregun ordered to determine whether Jauro indeed made the five statements to the EFCC voluntarily.
Led in evidence by Ojo, Achuneni told the court how he went to the EFCC’s office to represent Jauro during the course of his interrogation.
He, however, said he was not allowed to go near the interrogation table where Jauro was being questioned and asked to fill an asset declaration form by an operative of the EFCC, Orji Chukwuma.
He said he attempted several times to approach Jauro at the interrogation table, but he was asked to return back to the gallery where other visitors were seated.
He said the EFCC operative, Chukwuma, warned him again to go away or risk being joined alongside the accused person.
He said Chukwuma later asked him to endorse the statements taken from Jauro, stating that he (Achuneni) was present when it was taken and that all went well.
The lawyer said he, however, refused to do Chukwuma’s bidding but wrote that he was denied access to his client, which he said further angered Chukwuma, who threatened to charge him with obstruction of justice.
He alleged that Chukwuma then said he would make things difficult for Jauro following which Jauro’s children, including a six-year-old, were invited on the next day to the EFCC’s office.
Achuneni told the court that he reported at the EFCC’s office for about six days, and equally went along with the children when they were invited, adding that the interrogation lasted for between 10 to 11 hours.
During cross-examination, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, asked if Achuneni knew the provisions of Section 17 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, to which Achuneni said he didn’t.
Oyedepo, however, read the section of the ACJA, stating that a lawyer was forbidden from interfering with a suspect whose statement was being taken.
The trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun adjourned the matter till April 5, 2017.