Justice Yetunde Adesanya of a Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) has dismissed Chidinma Ojukwu counsel’s objection to cross-examine an Access Bank staff over late Mr Usifo Ataga’s bank statements tendered as exhibits.
The judge in dismissing the objection admitted the bank statements as exhibits.
Ojukwu is standing trial over the alleged murder of Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV She is charged along with her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.
Ojukwu and Quadri are facing the first to eight counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, making of bank statements and stealing.
The third defendant, Egbuchu, is facing the ninth count of stealing an iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.
Ojukwu and Quadri were alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on 15th June 2021, by stabbing him several times with a knife on the neck and chest at No.19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
However, at the resumed proceeding, the prosecution counsel, Mrs A. O. Oluwafemi, told the court that the prosecution had a representative from Access Bank who was in court based on a subpoena to tender the account document of the deceased.
The bank representative, Mr Toafeek Lawal, was however called to the witness box to tender the statement and certificate of identification.
After tendering the statement, the first defendant’s counsel, Mr Onwuka Egwu, objected, he sought to cross-examine the Access Bank officer on the document he tendered.
According to him, Lawal is the account officer of the deceased as can be seen from the subpoena and certification attached to the account. He, therefore, said that the bank officer was in a position to give evidence in respect of the account.
But the second defendant’s counsel, Mr Babatunde Busari, and the third defendant’s counsel, Mr A. O. Ogunsanya, did not object to the tendering of the account statements.
While ruling, the judge held that Section 218 of the Evidence Act (EA) 2011 provides that a person whether a party or not in a cause, may be summoned to produce a document without being summoned to give evidence.
She also said, “Section 219 of the Evidence Act provided that a person summoned to produce a document does not become a witness by the mere fact that he produced it and cannot be cross-examined unless and until he was called as a witness.
“This officer of Access Bank has not been sworn on oath, therefore, cannot be cross-examined.”
The judge, therefore, dismissed the first defendant’s application to cross-examined the bank staff.
An official of Guaranty Trust Bank, Mr Ademola Ayodeji, also tendered the bank statements of late Ataga before the court.
The judge admitted all the documents and marked them as exhibits and subsequently adjourned until 28th April 2022 for the continuation of the trial.