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I moved Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s cash from court —Banker

Ramon Oladimeji

An official of Diamond Bank Plc, Ademola Oshodi, told a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Monday that he managed the bank account of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, with number 0032091183, domiciled in the bank.

Oshodi told the court that he regularly visited the chamber of Justice Ofiili-Ajumogobia on the premises of the Federal High Court on Oyinkan Abayomi Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos, where Ofili-Ajumogobia is a judge, to collect huge cash sums to be deposited in the judge’s account.

The banker said whenever the money was above the lawful threshold that could be deposited in the judge’s account, he would split the money into two, deposit a portion into Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s account and the remaining portion in his own personal account.

The banker explained that he would subsequently transfer the money from his personal account to the judge’s account.

He added that at a time, he had to help the judge get a Bureau De Change operator, named Abah Said, who helped the judge to convert the naira sums to US dollars whenever the judge was not comfortable with the normal mode of transaction.

Oshodi said this on Monday when he appeared as a prosecution witness before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, where Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was arraigned alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Godwin Obla for alleged bribery, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and unlawful enrichment.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and Obla on 30 counts bordering on the offences.

The charges were read to them after Justice Oshodi ordered them to move from the court gallery into the dock.

“Unfortunately, you have to be in the dock,” Justice Oshodi said.

Obla, who was dressed in a clean blue suit on a white shirt and a blue tie and Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, who wore a black suit and skirt, were first asked by the court’s registrar if they understood English language, to which they answered in the affirmative, before the charges were read to them.

The EFCC, in the charges, alleged that Obla, while appearing in a suit, numbered FHC/L/C/482c/2010, before Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, offered a gratification of N5m to the judge to allegedly induce her to refrain from acting in the exercise of her official duties as a public officer.

Obla, the EFCC claimed, paid the money from the account of his company, Obla & Company Limited, with United Bank for Africa, to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia through the bank account of Nigel & Colive Limited in Diamond Bank Plc.

The EFCC claimed that the judge and the SAN acted contrary to sections 64 (1) and 97 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No. 11, 2011.

The judge and the SAN pleaded not guilty to the offence.

In 24 out of the 30 counts, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was accused of unlawfully enriching herself as a public officer, contrary to the provision of Section 82(a) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State No. 11, 2011.

The judge was accused of receiving a total of $793,800 in several tranches from different sources between 2012 and 2015 “so as to have a significant increase in your assets that you cannot reasonably explain the increase in relation to your lawful income.”

The judge was further accused of forging a deed of assignment between County City Bricks Development Co. Limited and Nigel & Colive Limited, dated July 5, 2010, which the EFCC claimed was purportedly prepared and signed by Charles Musa & Co.

The offence is said to be contrary to Section 467 of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2003.

In count 30, the EFCC accused Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia of giving false information to one of its operatives, Lawal Abdullahi, on October 19, 2016, by allegedly claiming on the telephone to be on admission at Gold Cross Hospital, Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, while she was not there.

The offence is said to be contrary to Section 39(2) (a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, however, pleaded not guilty.

Consequently, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed for a trial date and an order remanding the defendants in the prison custody pending trial.

But Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s lawyer, Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN), and Obla’s lawyer, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), said while they had no objection to the prayer for a trial date, they were opposed to the application to remand their clients in prison.

They both informed the court that they had filed bail applications for their clients.

Akoni urged Justice Oshodi to grant Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia bail on self recognition as a judge of the Federal High Court or to grant her bail on liberal terms, with a condition that the EFCC should not be the one to verify the bail conditions.

Adedipe also prayed Justice Oshodi to grant Obla bail on self recognition, assuring the court that he would make himself available for trial.

But the EFCC prosecutor opposed them and urged Justice Oshodi not to grant the defendants bail but to order an accelerated hearing of the case.

But after standing the case down for about two hours, Justice Oshodi, in a ruling, admitted both defendants to bail on self recognition.

He ordered them to deposit N20m each and their passports to the Chief Registrar of the court pending the conclusion of trial.

The judge said the bail would be revoked if the defendants failed to meet the conditions within seven days.

The case was, however, adjourned till January 9, 2017, for continuation of trial, after the defence counsel said they were not prepared for trial.

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