The trial of Senator Peter Nwaoboshi was stalled yesterday, following his counsel’s prayers to stop Zenith Bank’s official from testifying against him. Nwaoboshi, alongside his two companies, Golden Touch Construction Projects and Suiming Electricals, is on trial in the Federal High Court, Lagos, in a suit instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The senator, who was accused of laundering the sum of N322 million, was re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on October 5, following the elevation of the former trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, to the Court of Appeal.He had pleaded not guilty before the two judges.
At the resumed trial of the senator and his companies, the prosecution had called Eyituoyo Nogbeyintere of Zenith Bank as the third witness. But counsel to the defendants raised objections, arguing that the witness could not testify against their clients on the ground that his name was not listed as one of the witnesses, and that his statement was not front-loaded in the proof-of-evidence. Nwaoboshi’s counsel told the court that allowing the witness to testify in the trial would amount to ambush and denying their clients of their fundamental rights.
The prosecution, they argued, must give the defendant both the opportunity and materials, which include the statement(s) of the proposed witness it intended to call, in any trial, for the defendants to adequately prepare themselves on the evidence of the witness.
They, therefore, urged the court to disallow the bank official from testifying in the trial of their client.However, according to the prosecutor, the witness is a representative of Zenith Bank, which was listed as one of those to testify in the matter, adding that the witness’ evidence would be on behalf of the bank.
The prosecutor urged the court to hold that no statutory law compels it not to allow any witness who did not write a statement to testify in any trial.Following the arguments by parties, the trial judge adjourned the matter till March 19 for ruling and continuation of trial.