By G9ija

A federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday discountenanced the claims of Ondo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Clement Fagboyede and his co-accused, Modupe Adetokunbo, that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) compelled them to make statements under duress during interrogation at its Lagos office in 2016.

In his ruling on a trial-within-trial conducted to establish the claims or otherwise of the defendants, Justice Saliu Saidu upheld the EFCC’s submission controverting the defendants’ claims.

He held that from the evidence , the claims of coercion were not proved. Justice Saidu said: “There is nothing in both statements showing that the defendants were coerced or under duress in making the statements or that the writing of the statements were hinged on the refunds made by the defendants.

“The defendants had the opportunity to have challenged the refund demanded by the prosecution in court if they were actually coerced or under duress in making the payments.

“This court is satisfied that the defendants were not compelled to make the statements under threat or duress and as such, I allow the prosecution to tender both statements with their attachment that are marked Exhibit FC 1 and FC 2 in this case.

“This is the ruling of the court.”Fagboyede and Adetokunbo were arraigned by the anti-graft agency on a three-count charge dated June 5, 2018.

The EFCC accused them of conspiracy and others, contrary to the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended 2012).Both defendants pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.

In the course of the trial, the prosecution sought to tender the defendants’ statements in evidence, but the defence counsel objected to the admissibility of the said statements, following which the court ordered a trial within trial to resolve the issue.