EFCC denies leniency to former Accountant General in high profile corruption trial

By Ologeh Joseph Chibu

In a legal saga that unfolded in the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Mahmud Tukur, a detective associated with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has refuted allegations of offering leniency to the former Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, in exchange for implicating the former Minister of Finance and others.

Idris had made a stunning revelation on February 1, 2024, claiming that he was misled by the EFCC into confessing to the charges against him. He specifically asserted that the EFCC had coerced him, purporting to utilize him as a tool to implicate the Minister of Finance and several governors in a scheme involving derivation funds.

Facing trial on 14 counts of embezzlement and breach of trust amounting to N109.5bn, Idris and his co-defendants, including Godfrey Akindele, Mohammed Kudu Usman, and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited, were arraigned by the EFCC back in July 2022.

During the trial-within-trial, Tukur, serving as the second prosecution witness, flatly denied any such arrangement between the EFCC and Idris. This phase of the trial was mandated by the court following objections raised by Idris’s counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), contesting the voluntariness of his client’s statements to the EFCC.

Under questioning by the EFCC counsel, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, Tukur maintained that all 13 statements involving Idris and his legal representatives were given willingly. He asserted that Idris had been interviewed in the presence of his lawyers before providing 11 statements on different occasions. Tukur clarified that two of these statements were made without the presence of a lawyer, with Idris explicitly waiving his right to legal representation.

Addressing the court, Tukur stated, “Idris signed on the back of the page of the statement sheet and it was witnessed by Barrister Haruna Isa.” The statement of May 21, 2022, was written by Idris. “The statement of July 5, 2022, was made by the first defendant in the presence of Mr. Gbenga Adeyemi. He was cautioned, interviewed, before those volunteered statements.”

During cross-examination by Idris’s lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), Tukur elaborated on the standard procedures followed by the EFCC in obtaining statements from suspects. He clarified that Idris had personally requested to provide his initial statement, which was approved at a management level. However, he admitted that the EFCC did not send a formal invitation letter to Idris following his second statement.

When pressed on the allegation of offering Idris a soft landing, Tukur vehemently denied such claims, labeling them as “absolute falsehood.” He emphasized that, as a unit head within the EFCC, he did not possess the authority to make such promises, especially to a senior civil servant like Idris.

As the proceedings concluded, the trial judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu, adjourned the case until May 15 for the continuation of the trial-within-trial.

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