EFCC Re-Arraigns Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, Godwin Obla

Justice Ajumogobia’s Trial Stalled As Judge Slumps In Court
A file photo of Justice Rita-Ofili-Ajumogobia

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a dismissed judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia on allegations of corruption.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was re-arraigned on an 18 count charge alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla.

They both pleaded not guilty to the counts which border on unlawful enrichment, taking property unlawfully, corruption, forgery and giving false information.

Trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa admitted both defendants to bail on the same terms granted them at their previous arraignments.

READ ALSO: Court Grants Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia N10m Bail

The EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo on his part left the issue of bail to the discretion of court but urged the judge to impose the terms and conditions that will ensure the presence of defendants during trial.

Counsel to the dismissed judge, Robert Clarke SAN then informed the court of a preliminary objection he filed on the 13th of may, challenging the jurisdiction of the court.

He said that the court lacked the powers to hear the charge which according to him had already been decided by Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja.

Justice Aikawa has adjourned till the 23rd of may to hear the preliminary objection.

Court Grants Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia N10m Bail

Justice Ajumogobia’s Trial Stalled As Judge Slumps In Court
A file photo of Justice Rita-Ofili-Ajumogobia

 

A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has granted bail to Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum.

The surety must have a landed property in Lagos and the surety must also not be below grade level 16 in the Federal or State Civil Service.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is to deposit her passport with the Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR) of the court on/or before 6pm today and the DCR should make himself available to receive same.

READ ALSO: CCT Commences Judgement For Onnoghen’s Trial

The defendant shall, however, endeavor to fulfill the conditions within 10days or the bail will be revoked.

Following the Easter Holidays, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia will be released to her lead counsel, Wale Akoni (SAN) today, pending the fulfillment of the bail conditions or the expiration of 10days whichever comes first.

For the second defendant, Godwin Obla, who was not present at the court, the judge made an Order for the Issuance of Summons compelling him to appear before the court on May 15, 2019, for the purpose of the trial.

Proceedings were then adjourned to May 15, for trial.

EFCC Arrests Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia As Court Strikes Out Corruption Charges

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has arrested a dismissed judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.

Her arrest took place on the premises of the Lagos High Court, Lagos, Ikeja shortly after Justice Hakeem Oshodi struck out the corruption charges made against her by the EFCC.

As she attempted to leave the courtroom, EFCC officials moved to surround the dismissed judge.

Upon sighting them, the judge made a hasty retreat and went back upstairs into Justice Oshodi’s courtroom to seek the protection of the court from the EFCC officials.

Justice Oshodi, when notified about the development, said there was nothing he could do, as “the file had been closed.”

READ ALSO: EFCC Vs Fayose: Court Adjourns Trial Of Ex-Governor To May

Her co-defendant, Mr. Godwin Obla, SAN, was however allowed to leave the court premises.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was standing trial before the court on charges bordering on unlawful enrichment, taking property by a public officer, corruption, forgery and giving false information to an official of the EFCC, while Mr. Obla was Charged with bribing her with N5m.

They had both pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Before her arrest, the trial judge, Justice Oshodi, in a ruling, had struck out the 31 counts filed by the EFCC against Ofili-Ajumogobia and Mr. Obla on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit.

The judge ruled that, based on the judicial precedent set by the case of Justice Nganjiwa Vs FRN, the EFCC had “jumped the gun” in filing the first amended charge.

Justice Oshodi also held that the anti-graft commission had not followed the procedures set by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for disciplining erring judicial officers.

How Justice Ajumogobia Tried To Evade Investigation – EFCC

Ajumogobia

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.

Court To Rule On EFCC’s Prosecution Team Against Fani-Kayode On Tuesday

A Federal High Court Judge in Lagos, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia has fixed, Tuesday 25th of June to rule on whether the prosecution team of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led by Festus Keyamo can prosecute the money laundering case involving former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia fixed the date after lawyers in the matter adopted their written addresses.

The former Aviation Minister is standing trial before on a 47-count charge of laundering about N230million filed against him by the EFCC.

At the last sitting of the court on June 6, Fani-Kayode’s counsel; Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), had challenged the appearance of the prosecutor, one Vitalis Ahaotu from the law firm of Festus Keyamo.

Counsel to the former Minister wondered whether the law firm had obtained the fiat of the Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute the matter or was prosecuting on behalf of the EFCC.

The Prosecutor has however countered by arguing that neither the defendant nor the court can inquire into the propriety of a counsel’s appearance in a criminal trial especially where the counsel has been properly briefed by his client.

 

 

EFCC re-arraigns former Union Bank MD, others

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday re-arraigned the former Managing Director of Union Bank of Nigeria PLC, Barth Ebong and three others before a Federal High Court in Lagos on a 20 count charge of alleged fraud and money laundering.

The EFCC alleged that Mr Ebong granted credit facility of over N40 billion with no security when he held sway as the bank’s Chief Executive Officer.

He was arraigned before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia alongside three others, Henry Onyemem, Niyi Opeodu, and Samuel Anyininuola.

It will be recalled that the defendants were initially arraigned before Justice Dan Abutu on September 2009 and upon his retirement they were re-arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako on May 24 last year.

They were again re-arraigned before Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia on Thursday, following the transfer of Justice Nyako, from the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.

However, all the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Counsel to the bank Chiefs, Mike Oran, moved an oral application for bail on behalf of the accused persons, urging the court to allow the accused persons to continue to enjoy the earlier bail condition granted to them by the former trial judges.

But this was objected by counsel to the anti-graft agency, Nkem Okolie, arguing that their bail had lapsed following their re-arraignment, and so they should not be granted bail.

Okolie further argued that the defendants possessed the tendency to jump bail if granted, and urged the court to refuse the oral bail application of the defence counsel.

In her ruling, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia over ruled prosecution counsel’s submission, and ordered that they should continue to enjoy the earlier bail granted by the previous trial judge.

She then fixed December 6 for continuation of trial.

They were previously granted bail by Justice Abutu in the sum of N100 million.

The Judge also asked them to produce two sureties in like sum, who must be Nigerians, resident in Lagos or Abuja, be the chairman, board of directors of a financial institution in Lagos with total assets value as shown in the company’s annual report not below N1billion.

EFCC re-arraigns Francis Atuche and Charles Ojo

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned Francis Atuche and Charles Ojo both former managing directors of Bank PHB Plc and Spring Bank Plc respectively before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

This is the third time in three years.

They were arraigned before the court presided over by Justice Ofili Ajumogobia on a 45 count charge relating to mismanagement and misappropriation of shareholder’s funds through reckless grants of credit facilities without adequate security.

The two former bank chiefs however pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

The court then ordered that they should continue to enjoy the bail granted to them by the former court hearing the case, until January 15, 2013 when their new bail application is determined by the court.

The defendants were first docked before Justice Akinjide Ajakaiye by the anti-graft agency on October 28 on a 26-count charge of alleged granting a total of N78.384 billion non-secured credit facilities.

Mr Atuche is also currently facing three separate charges of alleged theft of Bank PHB funds running into several billions of Naira before two judges of the Lagos High Court siting in Ikeja.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, effort by the two defence counsel, Shamsuddeen Usman and Olumide Adefila to stop the arraignment was rejected by the court.

Usman had urged the court to stay further proceeding in the matter as his client is currently before the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal challenging the decision of Justice Ajakaiye (who is now retired) not to dismiss the charge against Atuche.

According to the lawyer, since the appeal has been entered and parties have joined issues, the trial court should not take any step that would render the decision of the upper court useless.

However, Justice Ajumogobia held that she cannot assume jurisdiction on the matter until the accused persons take their plea.

According to her “it is going to be an abomination for an accused not to be arraigned before a court and the court proceed to hear his application, it is only when an accused person is arraigned before a court that the court can then become a trial court”.

The judge therefore ordered that the charge be read to the two accused person.

The former bank MD who was also the former Chief Executive officer (CEO) of Bank PHB Plc was further alleged to have granted credit facilities in the total sum of N21.5 billion to the six companies which sum was above his approval limit as laid down by the regulations of Bank PHB Plc.

He was accused to have without prior approval of the CBN acquired share capital of Project Alpha United Kingdom, PHB Capital Trust Limited and Insurance PHB Limited in the total sum of N1. 380 billion thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 21(2) of BOFIA Cap B3, laws of Nigeria 2004.