The Department of State Services on Monday commenced the trial of one Mr John Elem, who was accused of attempting to print counterfeit naira notes, worth N20bn.
Elem was charged before Justice Saliu Saidu at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The prosecuting counsel for the DSS, E.K. Ugwu, said the defendant violated the provisions of “the Counterfeit Currency Offences Act, 2004.”
At the opening of trial in the case on Monday, the DSS Principal Officer in Charge of Investigation at the agency’s Ikoyi, Lagos office, Peter Uche, testified as the first prosecution witness against Elem.
Uche, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, told the court the DSS received a petition against Elem in December, 2016.
He said the petition, authored by one Mr Francis Okowa, was delivered to him in his office on December 7, 2016 at about 4pm by one Mr Grant from the law firm of Mr Rickey Tarfa (SAN).
According to the witness, the petitioner, a client of Rickey Tarfa’s chamber, alleged in his petition that the defendant, was plotting to print naira notes worth N20bn.
“Based on the petition, I went to my director and immediately a team was constituted to identify and arrest him (Elem). 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.”
Uche added, “We went into the house; we recovered items we believe support the petition. Some of the items we recovered were 92 pieces of golden colour hologram, a textbook and handbooks on how to print currencies. We also recovered a manual numbering machine.”
He added that he took two statements from Elem on December 9 and 11, 2016, adding that though the defendant denied the allegation, the items recovered from his house supported the petitioner’s claims against him.
Justice Saidu admitted in evidence the 92 pieces of golden colour hologram, which the witness said were recovered from the closet in Elem’s master bedroom.
The two statements by the defendant were also admitted as exhibits.
The defence lawyer, Idris Faro, sought an adjournment to cross-examine the witness.
Justice Saidu adjourned till Tuesday for further proceedings.