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Trial of Lagos hotelier, Augunous Okoro resumes

The trial of Augunous Okoro, an alleged accomplice of the late lawmaker Maurice Ibekwe, resumed on Wednesday at a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.

The duo are on trial for allegedly duping a German citizen, Klaus Munch and his Firm System Organisation to the tune of $30 million in 1992.

Shortly after the trial commenced in 2003 Maurice Ibekwe, then a member of the House of Representatives, died in prison custody, leaving Augunous Okoro to continue the trial.

Midway into the trial Okoro also claimed he could no longer continue with the trial due to ill health.

The trial resumed recently only to suffer several adjournments at the instance of the defendant.

At the proceeding Wednesday, prosecution brought a forensic expert to analyse some documents already admitted as exhibits.

The expert, Mr. Raphael Onwuzurigbo, told Justice Oluwatoyin Atinuke Ipaye that he found discrepancies in the documents analysed in May 2003, alleging forgery of various documents against Mr. Augunous Okoro.

While being led in evidence by Prosecution Counsel, Mr. Adeniji Adebiyi, the witness narrated how he arrived at his findings.

He told the judge that he employed a method of using Video Spectra Comparator to determine the writing and signatures on documents of subject matter analysed and found out they were not the same.

According to him, “the questioned handwriting in the relevant column of documents of B1 to B2, B4 to B8 where written by the writer of a specimen handwriting of documents marked X1 to X9.

“The questioned handwriting in the relevant column of documents marked D3, D9 were not written by the writer of the specimen hand writing of a documents marked X1-to X9.”

The questioned signatures on the relevant column of documents marked B2, B5, B7 and B10 were not the same with the documents marked X10.″

He said he noticed that strokes traceable to master pattern of questioned writing indicated differences of writers, what he decribed, “feature disparity.”

According to the prosecution witness, the exhibit marked P22 before the court dated 4 June 2003 was subjected to scientific and comparative analysis, marked B1 to B10 and X1 to X10.

But the defence counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, faulted the evidence while cross-examining the witness evidence.

He frowned at the witness’ failure to identify the features of his scientific observations rather than merely summarising his findings in his report tendered along with certified true copy of attached documents.

Ojo sought adjournment for further cross-examination of the witness on another date.

Thereafter, the judge adjourned the matter till 5 April for continuation of trial.

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