The Federal High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti on Monday admitted the contentious statement allegedly made by an accused person, Ayan Olubunmi, in police custody as exhibit that would be relevant to his trial.
There has been controversy surrounding the admissibility of a statement allegedly signed by the accused person in police custody while being interrogated on alleged publication of damaging video and photographs on Facebook against one Asari Monica.
The case with charge number FHC/AD/17C/2017 involving the Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector General of police VS Ayan Olubunmi began 31st of May in Aisegba Ekiti in Gbonyin local government area of Ekiti State.
The offence, according to the prosecution, was contrary to Section 24 of the Cybercrime prohibition Act 2015.
Following complaint to the police by the claimant (Monica) that her reputation was damaged through offensive publication, the accused person was arrested and taken to Ode Ekiti Divisional Police Station where he made a statement he later said was written under duress and should not be admitted in evidence.
His counsel, R.O. Agbaje had urged the trial Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo to allow for a trial-within-trial to test the admissibility of the statement, which he obliged.
But the prosecution counsel, D.O. Oyewole urged the court to admit the statement, saying the defence had shown no cause to vitiate the statement.
The Judge said he decided to accede to the foregoing request (trial-within-trial) because, as it is trite in law that it remains the last and best option anytime a defence claimed that a statement was not voluntarily made.
The prosecution paraded three witnesses: Asari Monica(PW1), Rashidi Babatunde (PW2) and Jimoh Ariyo(PW3, ALSO a police officer) while the
defendant was the only witness for himself in the case.
Delivering his ruling after the trial-within –trial, the Judge averred that the accused person failed vehemently to prove that he was actually coerced to consent to the contents of the statement .
Justice Taiwo said three elements are always common in forcing a suspect to make a statement under duress: they are: Oppression, Threat and Torture, saying the accused person failed to establish any of the three in a way that could vitiate the statement.
“It is no doubt that the accused person can read and write and he had never denied the signature appended on the statements he made on the 12th January and 30th January, 2017 at the police station.
“Again, he failed to corroborate his assertion that he was tortured while forcing him to sign the statement by the police and sustained injuries.
“He didn’t call a witness or showed medical report or asked any prison official to testify that there were injuries on his bodies when he was in their custody. I found this difficult to believe.
“The defendant didn’t controvert the fact that the statement was written in a daylight and I found his claim that the police(they) beat him up while also owning up later that it was only one Corporal Osobu that was present when the statement was being written contradictory and afterthought.
“Let me say that I am satisfied with the prosecution on his claim that the defence agreed with the contents of the letter, duly signed by him with date appended .
“The statement seems admissible and is hereby admitted as exhibit A”, Justice Taiwo ruled.
The judge adjourned the case to April 18 for commencement of trial.
SOURCE: DAILY POST