The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has told a Lagos High Court Sitting in Ikeja how a Federal High Court Judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia tried to cover her tracks with 11 mobile phones while she was being investigated.
An operative of the Commission, Abdullahi Lawal, who testified before the court on Friday, November 10, narrated how Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia hid the phones under her clothes.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is standing trial alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Godwin Obla, who was accused of bribing her with N5million. They were both arraigned on November 28, 2016, on 30 counts charge.
Led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness said that the judge used the phones to try and desperately contact most of the people she knew the anti-graft agency would invite for questioning, in connection to an investigation on how she came about monies in naira, dollars, and pounds in her bank accounts which EFCC alleged was above her lawful emolument.
The witness also testified that the Commission wrote a letter to the National Judicial Commission (NJC) requesting a detailed breakdown of Justice Ajumogobia’s salary and allowances.
After the NJC replied, the EFCC says it discovered that her annual salary as at the time of the investigation was N5.3million while her allowances were N7.5million.
When asked about certain transactions of $50,000, $70,000, $20000, $30000, and $55,000 traced to her bank accounts, Justice Ajumogobia reportedly told the anti-graft agency that the monies were proceeds from lands she sold in Benin and Asaba.
She also informed the EFCC that her lawyer, one Grant Ezenwa, helped her to sell the lands. But when contacted, Mr Ezenwa claimed to have sold just a piece of land for the judge in Benin at the cost of N9.7million.
The witness says that men of the EFCC then set out with Justice Ajumogobia to Benin to confirm the authenticity of her claims. On the way, it was discovered that the judge was making desperate phone calls to some people.
When the operatives determined that this would interfere with their investigations, her mobile phone was seized.
The calls did not however stop and the Commission says its female operatives subsequently discovered two more phones hidden under the Ajumogobia’s clothes.
When they arrived Benin, Justice Ajumogobia was said to have denied knowing the location of her land and properties. In frustration, the witness says the team decided to lodge in a hotel for the night. One of the operatives was said to have later found the judge making more calls in the bathroom and an additional three phones were recovered from her.
The next day, the witness says the Commission recovered a total of five more phones from the judge.
Justice Ajumogobia further told the operatives that it was only her brother, Donald Ofili who knew where her properties were located. When he was contacted, Donald however denied knowing where his sister’s properties were located.
The witness yesterday, November 10, is the 12th prosecution witness called in proof of the EFCC’s case against Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia.
The court has therefore adjourned till January 26, 2018 for continuation of trial.