Alleged Fraud: EFCC Re-Arraigns Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, Court Acquits Obla

File photo of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla with EFCC operatives.

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia on allegations of unlawful enrichment, breach of trust and money laundering.

She was arraigned before Justice Mohammed Liman on an amended 15 counts dated March 2nd.

Before her re-arraignment, Ajumogobia was docked alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla who had earlier been charged along with her.

Counsel to the EFCC, Suleiman Suleiman then applied to the court to withdraw the name of Obla from the charge.

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The court granted the request and Obla was accordingly acquitted and discharged. This paved the way for the re-arraignment of Justice Ajumogobia as the sole defendant in the amended charge.

In the first count, the EFCC claims that “Honourable Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili Ajumogobia on or about the 11th day of July 2014 in Lagos…, indirectly concealed the total sum of N12m in the diamond account of Nigel & Colive Limited, a sum she reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of an unlawful act…and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same act.

Justice Ajumogobia pleaded not guilty to all 15 counts.

Her counsel, Mobolaji Kuti then applied to the court to allow her continue on the bail previously granted by his brother judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa who had earlier recused himself from her trial.

Justice Liman granted this request before adjourning to 21st & 28th of April for trial.

 

Background

The EFCC had first arraigned Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia on an 18 counts before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Lagos. She pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

Justice Aikawa admitted her to bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum.

On May 18, 2019, counsel to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, Robert Clarke (SAN) challenged the jurisdiction of the court to try his client. In moving his application on the preliminary objection, he told the court that his client is still a judge of the Federal High Court and as such could not be tried in line with the precedent set in the case of Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa.

A month later on June 28, Justice Aikawa dismissed the preliminary objection filed by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia challenging her trial before the court.

He held that Justice Ajumogobia is no longer a judicial officer and could therefore be tried on any criminal offence for which she is accused.

Justice Ajumogobia has since challenged that decision at the Court of Appeal.

In the counts, the EFCC alleged that at various times, she indirectly concealed different sums of money, in the Diamond Bank account of Nigel and Colive Limited, a company alleged to be operated by her.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was also alleged to have on different dates in 2014, retained sums of monies like N5million, 150,000 dollars, 20,000 dollars, 30,000 dollars, 50,000 dollars, and 55,000 dollars in the Diamond bank account of Nigel and Colive.

The EFCC also accused Ajumogobia of indirectly concealing the sum of N12million in the same account, and making a false statement to the EFCC that the money was payment for the sale of landed property.

The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15 (2) (a) and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.

 

EFCC Re-Arraigns Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla

Ajumogobia
Rita-Ofili-Ajumogobia

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has re-arraigned a serving judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Godwin Obla, for allegedly involving themselves in unlawful enrichment and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

They were re-arraigned before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of a Lagos High Court sitting at Ikeja after the EFCC amended the charges against them.

The duo was first arraigned in November 2016 on 30-counts but the new charge has 31 counts.

In the fresh charges, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was, among other things, 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.”

On Obla’s part, he was accused of offering N5m as gratification to the judge so as to allegedly pervert the course of justice.

The offences are said to be contrary to certain sections of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State No. 11, 2011.

The defendants again pleaded not guilty to the fresh charges.

The EFCC Immediately called its 12th prosecution witness, Abdullahi Lawal, an investigator, who continued his testimony before the court.

Lawal, who was led in evidence by the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, pointed out three deposits – N4m, N3m and 5m – made into the account of Nigel and Colive Nigeria Limited, a company allegedly belonging to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia.

Application On Jurisdiction Stalls Trial Of Ajumogobia, Obla

Application On Jurisdiction Stalls Trial Of Ajumogobia, Obla An application challenging the jurisdiction of Justice Hakeem Oshodi to hear the case of alleged bribery against a suspended judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and a Senior Advocate Of Nigeria, Godwin Obla, stalled proceedings on Monday, at the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

When the case was called, a new counsel, Mr Robert Clarke (SAN), announced appearance for Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia. He led another Senior Advocate, Wale Akoni, who had been in the matter from the beginning.

The judge noted that though the application was not ripe for hearing as the prosecution counsel was yet to reply, he would have to adjourn to hear it.

He also rejected a move by Mr Clarke to temporarily withdraw the application so that an earlier application seeking permission for Mrs Ajumogobia to travel abroad for medical treatment could be heard.

Justice Oshodi subsequently fixed hearing of the application for April 28.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla’s Trial Stalled

Justice Rite Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla's Trial StalledThe absence of the EFCC Prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, on Thursday stalled the trial of a suspended Federal High Court Judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla.

Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, had to adjourn until April 10 for hearing of the pending applications.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and Mr Obla on a 30-count charge of conspiracy to pervert justice by allegedly giving and receiving a bribe of five million Naira.

The anti-graft agency had also alleged that about $793,800 passed through the judge’s domiciliary accounts between 2012 and 2015, and that she allegedly used the money to buy a house in London.

Five of the charges were centred on an alleged five million Naira bribe given to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia by the senior advocate, while the remaining 26 charges were on the huge amounts that passed through her accounts and her alleged inability to explain her source of wealth.

The other charges filed against the judge border on forgery, lying, unlawful enrichment and other related offences.

Both have pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Witness Tells Court He Moved Cash For Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia

AjumogobiaThe trial of Justice Rita Ofili Ajumogobia continued on Monday at the Lagos High Court sitting in the Ikeja area.

The first prosecution witness, Ademola Oshodi detailed in court how monies were paid and moved between the judge’s domiciliary account and her other accounts.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had accused Justice Rita Ofili Ajumogobia of unlawful enrichment, corruption by a public officer, forgery and giving of false information to an official of the EFCC.

She is standing trial alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla, who was charged with offering gratification in the sum of five million Naira to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, a public official while carrying out her duties as a judge.

The accused persons had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At Monday’s proceedings, the court proceeded with trial despite efforts by the judge’s lawyer, Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN), to halt the trial.

The SAN asked for an adjournment, on the grounds that he had a pending application asking the EFCC to provide him with some documents in relation to the case.

The prosecution witness told the court how Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, approached his bank, Diamond Bank to open a corporate account for her company.

Upon verification, the bank found out that address she gave for the company, Nigel and Colive was an uncompleted building.

The witness, however, said the bank went ahead and opened the corporate account for the company in good faith because of the defendant’s position as a Federal High Court judge, and also because the property belongs to her.

The witness further detailed in court how he helped the judge move large sums of foreign currencies between her three accounts domiciled with Diamond Bank.

The defense counsel declined to comment on the day’s proceedings but the prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo did.

Presiding Judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi has adjourned the matter till January 30, for continuation of trial and possibly the hearing of the first defendants pending application.

EFCC Storms Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s Home

EFCC Storms Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia's Home Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), have visited the home of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, at Park View Estate in Ikoyi, Lagos.

It was gathered that the EFCC officials who stormed the house at about 7am on Wednesday, were there to conduct a search but eventually left after being denied access into the house.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), are being prosecuted for allegedly perverting the course of justice by the anti-graft agency.

While Ofili-Ajumogobia faces a 26-count charge of unlawful enrichment, forgery and giving false information to an official of the EFCC, among others, Obla is charged with offering gratification in the sum of five million Naira, to Ofili-Ajumogobia during her service as a judge.

Both have however pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Alleged 5m Naira Bribe: EFCC Arraigns Judge, Senior Lawyer

Judges, Court, Judges, Court, Absence of EFCC Counsel Stalls Trial Of Jonathan's AideThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has charged a Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Godwin Obla, with alleged bribery.

They were charged at a Lagos High Court in Ikeja, the city’s capital, on a 30-count, five of which border on an alleged five million bribe given to the judge by the SAN.

According to the anti-graft agency, the alleged bribe was offered when the judge was presiding over one of Mr Obla’s cases.

The remaining 25 charges are on the huge sums of money which passed through the accounts of the judge and her alleged inability to explain the source of the money which is more than her lawful income as a public official.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges and the defence team applied for their bail on self-recognisance or on liberal terms.

The EFCC has, however, contended that the defendants had tried to interfere with investigation and witnesses, urging the court to consider that in exercising its discretion on whether or not to grant bail

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, who is covering the proceedings, reports that Justice Hakeem Oshodi has stepped down the case for now to consider his ruling on the bail applications.

The defendants are to deposit their travel passports with the Chief Registrar of the Lagos High Court within seven days otherwise the bail will be revoked. 

They are also to deposit 20 million Naira with the Chief Registrar of the Lagos High Court within seven days failing which the bail will be revoked.

Alleged N918m Fraud: Fmr VP Atiku’s Wife, Titi Abubakar Testifies In Court

Alleged N918m Fraud: Fmr VP Atiku's Wife, Titi Abubakar Testifies In CourtWife of Nigeria’s former Vice-President, Mrs Titi Abubakar, testified on Friday at the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

She testified of how she was allegedly defrauded by a former governorship aspirant in Akwa Ibom State, Nsikakabasi Akpan Jacobs.

Asikakabasi Akpan Jacobs, Abdulmalik Ibrahim and Dana Motors were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on a 15-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and fraudulent conversion of properties belong to THA Shipping Maritime Services Ltd.

The company was said to have been formed in year 2000 with 49% shares belonging to Mrs Abubakar, 25% belonging to Dan & Fred Holmes who were both working at the time for Julius Berger and 25% to Akpan Jacobs.

Akpan Jacobs who doubled as the company’s Managing Director and Secretary was however alleged to have gone to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) where he altered the share arrangement in his favour.

In her testimony, Mrs Atiku said that Akpan Jacobs, used the proceeds from the sales of the company’s property to contest for the governorship position in Akwa Ibom State.

She lamented that her investment in the company had gone down the drain, and stated that her interest in coming to court was to ensure that justice is done.

Mrs Atiku is expected to continue her evidence in court on December 14, 2016.

Bribery Allegations: EFCC To Arraign Ajumogobia, Obla

Bribery Allegations: EFCC To Arraign Ajumogobia, OblaThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is set to arraign a Federal High Court Judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla on Monday, November 28 before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

The Commission had filed a 30-count charge against the two defendants.

Five of the charges border on an alleged five million naira bribe given to the judge by the senior advocate at a time she was presiding over one of his cases while the remaining 25-count charges are on the huge sums of money which passed through the accounts of the judge and her alleged inability to explain the source.

Justice Ofili Ajumogobia and Mr Obla have been in the custody of the EFCC for a little over two weeks.

On Friday, Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos struck out a one billion naira suit filed by Mr Obla, against the EFCC over his continued detention.

In a judgment delivered on the fundamental rights enforcement suit, Justice Idris held that the arrest and subsequent detention of Mr Obla from November 8 cannot be said to be unlawful or unconstitutional.

The court noted that it is clear from the affidavit evidence that “on the 9th of November, 2016, the EFCC sought obtained a remand order from a magistrate court.

According to the judge, “It is also clear from the affidavit evidence that the applicant appeared before the learned magistrate when the application was moved by the EFCC and the remand order made.

“In the said order, the learned magistrate directed that the applicant be remanded for a period of 14 days while investigation into the alleged offence continues. The remand order was premised on the provisions of Section 264 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, 2011”.

The judge also refused to declare and hold that Section 264 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, 2011 is unconstitutional as requested by the applicant.

On the seized mobile phones of the applicant, the court held that affidavit processes filed has revealed that they are to be used as exhibits in the prosecution of a criminal charge filed by the EFCC against the applicant before a Lagos High Court.

In striking out the suit, Justice Idris held that “there is no doubt in my mind that the substantial part of the reliefs sought herein by the applicant does have a direct bearing with the charge pending at the Lagos High Court.

“There is potential injustice that this will occasion injustice to the EFCC in the criminal charge if the reliefs sought by the applicant are granted. This court should not make any order that will strike violently at the heart of the criminal charge pending at the Lagos High Court.

“The matter of bail of the applicant shall be decided by the Lagos High Court where the criminal charge is pending.

“On the whole, I find that this application cannot succeed in the circumstance of this case. The suit is hereby struck out”.

N1.5b Contract Scam: EFCC Closes Case In Trial of Ex NIMASA D-G, Omatseye

EFCC_IkuforijiThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday, closed its case before a Federal High Court in Lagos, in the trial of Raymond Omatseye, charged with contract scam.

Omatseye, a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), is standing trial on an amended 27-count charge of alleged contract scam.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charge, and was granted bail.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, the prosecutor, Godwin Obla (SAN) informed the court that he had closed the case for the prosecution, having called three witnesses.

In response, Defence Counsel, Mr Olusina Sofola (SAN) quickly informed the court of the defence’s intention to file an application for a no case submission before the court.

Obla in reply, pointed out that the prosecution also had a right to respond to the application of defence, adding that he had 14 days to do so.

After listening to the submissions of counsels, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia ruled that she would hear both the application for no case submission, and the response of prosecution on the return date.

She adjourned the case to Dec. 2 for arguments.

Omatseye was re-arraigned on Jan. 21, 2013.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail.

The prosecution had opened its case on Feb. 4, 2013, by calling on its first witness, Mr Ibrahim Ahmed, an Investigating Police Officer with the EFCC.

On May 30, 2013, Obla called his second witness, Mr Mohammed Shehu, a former acting Director of Procurement in NIMASA.

The third witness is Mr Aminu Aliyu, a staff of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

All witnesses had given various testimonies before the court, as to the nature and form of contract, awarded by the accused, while serving as D-G of NIMASA.

In the charge, the accused was said to have been involved in contract splitting and bid rigging estimated at over N1.5 billion.

The offence contravenes the provisions of sections 58 (4) (d) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

It also contravenes the provisions of sections 14 (a) of the money laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.

N47.1bn Theft Charges: Akingbola Files Appeal, Seeks Stay Of Proceedings

ERASTUS AkingbolaThe former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Erastus Akingbola, on Monday, asked the Lagos High Court, Ikeja, to stay proceedings in the N47.1 billion theft trial levelled against him by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

His co-defendant, Mr Bayo Dada, the General Manager of Tropics Securities Ltd., also made a similar request before the presiding judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo.

Mr Akingbola’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun, who filed an application to stay the proceedings, told Justice Lawal-Akapo that the application was premised on an appeal challenging his ruling of May 2.

On May 2, Justice Lawal-Akapo had dismissed an application by the defendants seeking to quash the charges against them. With that dismissal, the court then assumed jurisdiction to hear the matter and fixed Monday June 23 for arraignment.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, Mr Akingbola headed to the Court of Appeal where he filed a notice of appeal.

His lawyer, Olanipekun, therefore informed Justice Lawal-Akapo that the Court of Appeal had already fixed July 3 for hearing of the appeal; he urged the court to wait for the outcome of the proceedings, in the interest of justice.

Counsel to the 2nd defendant, Prof Taiwo Osipitan, aligned with his submissions. He further urged the court to adjourn proceedings pending the hearing and determination of Mr Akingbola’s appeal.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Godwin Obla, said, though, he had only just been served the application for stay of proceedings, he was, however, willing to respond orally on points of law to accelerate proceedings.

He urged the defendants to move their application and to desist from seeking an adjournment through the backdoor.

In a short ruling, Justice Lawal-Akapo granted the request of the defence counsel and adjourned till July 11 for arguments on the application to stay proceedings.

Money Laundering Charges: Judges’ Seminar Stalls Trial Of Lagos Speaker

Lagos Speaker IkuforijiThe trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, was on Monday stalled as the presiding judge had to rise to attend a judges’ seminar.

Ikuforiji, had been standing trial before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly laundering over 339million Naira, charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC alleged that Ikuforiji and one of his aides, one Oyebode Atoyebi, accepted various cash sums on behalf of the State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.

The suit, which was fixed for continuation of trial, could not go on as earlier scheduled, due to a judges’ seminar organised by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

When the case was called, the Prosecutor, Godwin Obla, and the Defence Counsel, Wole Olanipekun, consented to an adjournment.

The defence counsel, however, urged the prosecutor to produce his remaining witnesses in court on the next date, to ensure speedy trial.

Justice Ibrahim Buba then adjourned the case till Tuesday, March 18, for continuation of trial before leaving for his seminar.

The EFCC had re-arraigned the accused persons on June 24, 2013, on an amended 54 count charge.

The offences are said to contravene the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.

Both men had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail in the sum of 1 billion Naira each, with two sureties, each in the sum of N500 million.