Ekiti AG faults renegade witness’s claim of coercion, tutoring

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Ekiti State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Owoseni Ajayi, has denied claims by one of the witnesses in the trial of the murder of a former chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state, Chief Omolafe Aderiye, Gbolahan Okeowo, that he coerced him to make a statement on oath.

Okeowo, who was an assistant to the late Aderiye, recently recanted and claimed that he was tutored to make a statement he had earlier made as a witness in the ongoing trial of some persons in the murder.

He claimed that he was tutored to make statements by people loyal to Governor Ayo Fayose to frame up those alleged to have murdered Chief Aderiye.

Reacting to Okeowo’s claims, Ajayi said he read in a newspaper that “one of the witnesses called by us in the prosecution, who had earlier made a statement to the police and confirmed that statement to the examination in chief before it was adjourned for a cross examination, recanted that he was tutored to  make the said statement in the office of the Attorney General of the state.”

According to him, “the subject matter in  defense  is prejudice; it is against the principle of law for anybody to assist him to go and swear to an affidavit in a Federal High Court, Akure, after he had given evidence in chief, he has been crossed examined and he never gave any reference to any of those issues which he swore to in that affidavit in Akure.”

Ajayi added: “Secondly, the accused person, witnesses to criminal cases don’t give statements in the office of the Attorney General. Statements are made in the statutory office of police stations and recorded by IPO assigned for those functions. It is only when the police have confirmed their investigations, statement have been obtained and investigation have been concluded, if it is a criminal case of that nature, that they usually refer the case file to the DPP’s Office.

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“It is at that stage that the DPP will take over; the Ministry of Justice can take over and make their necessary comments. Let me state too that as at September when this case of Aderiye’s murder occurred, I was not the Attorney General then because we had not been sworn-in then.

“So to prelude that sometime in the month of October that his statement was removed by the police is a direct indictment on the Police authorities and I expect the police to investigate that.

“As far as I am concerned, that particular person who is just a witness to us has committed perjury in that affidavit which was sworn in the Federal High Court, Akure. He should have sworn it in the Federal High Court Ado Ekiti or the state.”

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