The trial of one Ladeji Babatunde before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos for offence bordering on obtaining money by false pretence to the tune of N2.9 million continued on Monday, August 1, 2022 with the trial judge delivering ruling on his trial-within-trial as the court admit in evidence the statement of the defendant.
Babatunde who was first arraigned in December 2021, is being prosecuted by the EFCC on a four-count charge.
One of the counts reads: “Ladeji Kelvin Babatunde on or about 19th – 22nd February 2021 at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud obtained the sum of N1,500,000 (One Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira) only from one Chijioke Mmadubue and his syndicate of internet fraudsters based at Chevron axis of Lekki, Lagos under the false pretence that you will protect them from arrest by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which representation you knew to be false.”
Another count reads: “Ladeji Kelvin Babatunde on or about 18th March 2021 at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud obtained the sum of N800,000 (Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) only from one Jacob, an internet fraudster under the false pretence that you will help with his case at office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which representation you knew to be false.”
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges
In the course of the trial, when the prosecuting counsel, Nnaemeka Omewa, sought to tender in evidence the statement of the defendant through the prosecution’s witness, Bot Dachung Toma, the defence raised objection arguing that the statement was made involuntarily.
The objection necessitated the need for a trial within trial.
Delivering ruling on the trial-within-trial, Justice Taiwo held that “no act of torture was established”.
The court thereafter admitted the statement as Exhibit C1 to C13 as the EFCC closed its case against the defendants
Continuing with his testimony, Toma, told the court that the EFCC received a petition against the defendant alleging that he was going about posing as an official of the EFCC and using the guise to extort money from suspected internet fraudsters.
“We investigated the petition and found out that he was actually impersonating EFCC officials and going around the city collecting money that he will help them not to get arrested,” he said.
He further testified that money was traced to his bank account, and that it is believed that the extorted funds formed part of the money he used to build a house in Ogun State.
The prosecution thereafter closed its case.
The matter has been adjourned till August 16, 2022for defence to open its case.