Libel: Court admits ‘controversial’ statement as exhibit

Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti yesterday admitted a ‘controversial’ statement allegedly made by an accused person, Ayan Olubunmi, in police custody as exhibit, in spite of opposition.
The admissibility of the statement allegedly signed by the accusedperson while in police custody had become very contentious because of the accusation by the accused person that the statement was made under duress, while being interrogated on alleged publication of damaging video and photographs on facebook against one Asari Monica.
The case with registration number FHC/AD/17C/2017 involving the Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector General of police versus Ayan Olubunmi, began 31st of May in Aisegba Ekiti in Gbonyin local government area of Ekiti state.
The offence, according to the prosecution was contrary to Section 24 of the Cybercrime Prohibition Act 2015.
Following complaint to the police by the claimant(Monica) that her reputation was damaged through offensive publication, the accused person was arrested and taken to Ode Ekiti Divisional Police Station where he made a statement he later said was written under duress and should not be admitted in evidence.
Her counsel, R.O. Agbaje had urged the trial Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo to allow for a trial-withintrial to test the admissibility of the statement which he obliged.
But the prosecution counsel, D.O. Oyewole urged the court to admit the statement, saying the defence has shown no cause to vitiate the outcome.
The judge said he decided to accede to the foregoing request (trial-within-trial) because, it is a trite law that it remains the last and best option anytime a defence claimed that a statement was not voluntarily made.
Delivering his ruling after the trial-within –trial, the judge averred that the accused person failed vehemently to prove that he was actually coerced to consent to the contents of the statement.
“It is no doubt that the accused person can read and write and he had never denied the signature appended on the statements he made on the 12th January and 30th January, 2017 at the police station.
Again, he failed to corroborate his assertion that he was tortured while forcing him to sign the statement by the police and sustained injuries .
“He didn’t call a witness or showed medical report or asked any prison official to testify that there were injuries on his bodies when he was in their custody.
I found this difficult to believe.
” The judge adjourned the case to April 18 for commencement of trial.


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