Witness at Badeh’s trial admits leaving out vital information in statements with EFCC
A cross-examination of the fourth Prosecution Witness (PW4), Mustapha Yerima, continued yesterday at the ongoing trial of former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.
The witness, who appeared to be on a hot-seat over seeming contradictions between his earlier statements with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and evidence in the court, admitted that some vital information were left out in the statements before the EFCC as he only responded to questions he was asked.
Yerima had told the court in his evidence in-chief that he bought the land for the controversial shopping complex in Abuja on the instruction of PW1, Air Commodore Abdullahi Yushau.
He had also said that Yushau instructed him to do the documentation in his (Yerima) company’s name, Ryte Builders Technologies Limited, pending when he will give him the real name of the purchaser.
According to Yerima, Yushau had told him that he was acting on behalf of his boss, then, Chief Badeh.
However, when the defence counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, confronted him with his earlier statements with the EFCC and the fact that he never mentioned that Yushau told him he was acting on the instruction of Badeh, the witness said what he wrote at the EFCC was a summary of what transpired.
“In all your five statements with the EFCC, nowhere did you mention that Yushau told you the plaza belonged to his boss”, Olujimi noted.
In his response, Yerima said: “No. I did not. what I gave was a summary. I don’t think I am able to write every single thing that happened within a space of three years.
“EFCC reasoned with me when I told them I cannot remember everything that happened within a space of three years”.
The witness further told the court that while he was writing his first statement at EFCC, he had documents with him unlike when he was testifying in the court.
When cross-examined further, he said the reason he did not state those ‘vital information’ he gave in his evidence was because he was not asked those questions. He said the more the defence counsel asked him, the more he remembered.
Also, when asked why he did not include in his five statements that prior to the commencement of the project, he held a meeting with Yushau where he was told the plaza belonged to Badeh, Yerima answered that such would have skipped him, adding: “Interrogation does not work like that. Even if I know more than what I am asked, I restrict answer to what concerns me and my company.”
The witness had equally admitted that he did not mention in his statement at the EFCC that Yushau gave him N300 million dollar equivalent as mobilisation for the commencement of the plaza.
Olujimi, therefore, wondered why Yerima’s memory got fresher as events aged.
In his response, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said that the witness had no record of poor mental ability just as the witness admitted that he had no problem of memory loss.
The trial has been adjourned till today.