The Department of State Services has commenced the trial of one Mr John Elem, who was accused of attempting to print counterfeit naira notes, worth N20bn.
Elem was charged before Justice Saliu Saidu at the Federal High Court in Lagos and the prosecuting counsel for the DSS, E.K. Ugwu, said the defendant violated the provisions of “the Counterfeit Currency Offences Act, 2004.”
At the opening of trial in the case today, the DSS Principal Officer in Charge of Investigation at the agency’s Ikoyi, Lagos office, Peter Uche, testified as the first prosecution witness against Edem. Uche, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, Ugwu, told the court that the DSS received a petition against Edem in December 2016.
He said the petition, authored by one Mr Francis Okowa, was delivered to him in his office on December 7, 2016, about 4pm from the law firm of Mr Rickey Tarfa (SAN). According to the witness, the petitioner, a client of Rickey Tarfa’s chamber, alleged in his petition that the defendant, Edem, was plotting to print naira notes, worth N20bn.
“Based on the petition, I went to my director and immediately a team was constituted to identify and arrest him (Edem). The following day, around 2pm, we were able to apprehend the suspect along Governor’s Drive, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi.
The team was split into two; one to go and search his house while the other was to search his company. I led the team that went to his house on Banana Island in the evening of the same day. We went into the house; we recovered items that we believe support the petition. Some of the items we recovered were 92 pieces of golden colour holograms, a textbook and handbooks on how to print currencies. We also recovered a manual numbering machine” Uche told the judge.
He added that he took two statements from Edem on December 9 and 11, 2016, adding that though the defendant denied the allegation, the items recovered from his house supported the petitioner’s claims against him.
Justice Saidu admitted in evidence the 92 pieces of golden colour holograms, which the witness said were recovered from the closet in Edem’s master bedroom. The judge equally admitted in evidence a textbook with the title, ‘Optical Document on Security,’ and the handbooks said to contain instructions on how to print currencies and the manual numbering machine.
The two statements by the defendant were also admitted as exhibits. The defence lawyer, Idris Faro, sought an adjournment to cross-examine the witness. Justice Saidu adjourned till Tuesday for further proceedings.