Story by Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
An operative of the Department of State Security Services, (DSS) Mr. Folusho Rotimi, today, told a Federal High Court, Lagos, how specimens of fake Nigerian currency was recovered from Parkview, Ikoyi’s home of a businessman, John Elem.
Elem is standing trial before Justice Saliu Saidu on charges of counterfeiting about N20 billion Nigeria’s currency, by the DSS.
The offences according to the prosecuting counsel, Mr. E.K. Ugwu, violated the Counterfeit Currency Offences Act, 2004.
Though, the defendant had denied the allegations and he is currently on bail.
At the resumed hearing of the charge today, the DSS operative, Folusho, who is the Second prosecution witness, informed the court that upon conducting a search on the defendant’s home, a roll of paper with imprint of N1, 000 note was found on a machine, which was been used for printing of fake currency.
He said: on December 9, 2016, during a search of defendant’s house the agency made recovery of some items which includes some machines and my team wrote a report on the machine.
“My office now write a letter to the Nigerian Printing Press for the analysis of the machine”.
Upon tendering of the letter written by the DSS to Nigerian Printing Press, which was admitted and marked as ‘exhibit JE 27’, the prosecution witness concluded his evidence-in-chief.
However, the witness while being cross-examined by the defendant’s lawyer, Idris Faro, told the court that as at time the search was conducted at the defendant’s house, no one was seeing printing money. But said: “we found a roll of paper on the machine with N1000 printed on the back of the paper.
“On the role of the paper, I remembered that at the last sitting of the court, I told the court that the paper on the machine wasn’t this one met on the day of search and that the one on the machine has the inprint of N1000 note at the back of the paper roll which was video recorded”.
When asked why they did not produced the roll of the paper with N1000 printed at the back as exhibit, the witness said they took sample of the paper.
When asked how men of the DSS gained entry to the defendant’s workshop, Rotimi said the agency obtained a search warrant on December 8, 2016 and that on December 9,2016, they went to the defendant’s workshop for a search.
The witness also said they met the defendant who said he was not with the key to the workshop, but gave them permission to search the place after they have made themselves available for search before gaining entrance.
Rotimi said that due to lack of key to the workshop and the permission given by the defendant to force the place open , the workshop was forced open .
Earlier, the first prosecution witness, Peter Uche, had informed the court that the DSS acted on a tip-off which led to the arrest of Elem.
Ugwu, said the DSS received a petition against Edem signed by Mr Francis Okowa. He said the petition was delivered to him in his office on December 7, 2016 at about 4pm by “Mr Grant” from the law firm of Mr Rickey Tarfa (SAN).
He said Okowa, Tarfa’s client, alleged that Edem was plotting to print naira notes worth N20 billion.
“Based on the petition, I went to my director and immediately a team was constituted to identify and arrest the defendant.
“The following day, around 2pm, we were able to apprehend the suspect along Governor’s Drive, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi. “The team was split into two: one to go and search his house while the other was to search his company.
“I led the team that went to his house on Banana Island in the evening of the same day.
“We met someone in his house; so, we tendered a search warrant and subjected ourselves to body search by the defendant and the person in his house .We went into the house and recovered items that we believe support the petition. Some of the items were 92 pieces of golden colour holograms, a textbook and handbooks on how to print currencies. We also recovered a manual numbering machine”.
He said he took two statements from Edem on December 9 and 11, 2016, adding that although the defendant denied the allegation, the items recovered from his house supported the charge.
Justice Saidu admitted in evidence the 92 pieces of golden colour holograms, which the witness said were recovered from the closet in Edem’s master bedroom.
Further hearing of the matter has been adjourned till October 16 and 17.