EFCC tricked me into admitting diversion of N127m for personal use, ex-scholarship board secretary tells court
The former Executive Secretary, Lagos State Scholarship Board, Stephen Oshinowo, has told a Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja that he was tricked into admitting allegation of diversion of the sum of N127million to personal use by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Oshinowo gave this testimony during trial-within-trial over whether his extra-judicial statement was voluntarily made to the EFCC when he was remanded in the custody.
He was arraigned on an amended eight-count charge bordering on criminal conversion.
The EFCC said investigation conducted revealed that Osinowo, at various times, allegedly diverted to his personal use the said sum meant for the board. He pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him.
At the resumption of the trial, Oshinowo was led in evidence by his counsel, Lawal Pedro, SAN, to narrate how his statement of admittance to fraud were obtained by the agency.
Oshinowo told Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo-led court that a state counsel, Rasaki Adebayo, had approached him while in detention, urging him to cooperate with the investigation and resolve the matter amicably rather than going for trial in court.
He further explained that through the state counsel an offer was made to him to restitute N30m and his freedom would be secured.
An offer he said made him change his earlier statement and admitted to the offences on the ground of his deteriorating health status while in detention.
He said: “On November 29, a lawyer, Rasaki Adebayo approached me that he was contracted by my family to intervene over my matter and he advised me to play along with the EFCC in order for me to be set free.
“Rasaki Adebayo told me that he has spoken with the EFCC and they have an understanding, urging me to cooperate with every step.
“Thereafter, I was made to write another statement which I was guided on what to write down by the operatives,” he narrated.
When asked how he became aware that the said Rasak Adebayo was a state counsel, Oshinowo stated that it was when he received an invitation from EFCC for an arraignment.
“An EFCC officer called me on the phone that their boss will like to see me, an invitation I honoured and on getting to their office I was made to realise that I would be arraigned in court over the allegations.
“The development which made me to reach out to Rasak Adebayo to know the reason behind the turnaround of our agreement with EFCC and that he should join me in court to resolve the whole issues he created for me.
“It was then Rasaki Adebayo who told me that he can’t represent me in court because he is a state counsel.
“I was shocked to hear his submission, thereafter, I realised that I have been coerced to admit to an offence I know nothing on,” he said.
Under cross-examination by EFCC Counsel, Usman Buhari, asked if Osinowo verified from his family if they contracted Rasaki Adebayo, for his legal representation at the commission. “Did you at anytime asked your family members about the engagement of the services of Rasaki Adebayo upon your released from EFCC custody?”
He said he didn’t because he was in detention.
The EFCC counsel also asked him if he instituted charges or write a petition to the state against Rasaki Adebayo for his misconduct, Osinowo answered in the negative.
And when confronted with documentary evidence that his daughter was a beneficiary of the state scholarships scheme, he stated that the process was not influenced but based on merit.
Subsequently, Justice Taiwo adjourned till April 28 for the adoption of written address for ruling on trial-within-trial
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