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.

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.

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.

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”.

Former NIMASA DG Omatseye Appeals Conviction, Seeks Bail

Raymond Omatseye, Court, ScamA former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Raymond Omatseye, has asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to grant him bail pending the determination of his appeal against his conviction.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court had on May 20, sentenced him to a prison term of five years for awarding contracts above the threshold while in office.

Mr Omatseye, who is challenging the verdict, is asking the court to grant him bail pending the determination of an appeal he lodged at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division.

According to him, given the number of years it takes to prosecute appeals, it is likely that he could have finished serving the prison term by the time the appeal would be determined.

Besides, Omatseye said he was a father of four children, one of whom was very ill and suffered from “severe medical conditions of epilepsy”.

He said his wife stayed full time in London with the sick child to enable him get proper medical attention.

The former NIMASA DG claimed that in his wife’s absence, he had been providing parental care to the remaining three children in Nigeria.

Mr Omatseye assured the court that he would not run away if granted bail.

He said he was always in court during trial, adding that he was granted bail after his arraignment on self-recognition, having been a lawyer for 28 years.

But, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said the issues raised by Mr Omatseye ought to be determined by the appellate court, adding that the reasons for the post-bail application “are based on appeal to pity and extraneous circumstances”.

The prosecution said bail after conviction was only granted on the basis of very special and exceptional circumstances.

“In the present application, no exceptional or very special circumstances have been shown to entitle the applicant to bail pending appeal.

“The applicant has failed to show any special circumstances or reason to enable this honourable court to exercise its discretion in its favour and admit the applicant to bail.

“We, therefore, urge this honourable court to dismiss the application,” the EFCC said.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogibia has adjourned the case till June 6 for ruling.

Court Jails Former NIMASA DG, Omatseye For Five Years

Raymond Omatseye, Court, ScamThe Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has sentenced the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Raymond Omatseye, to five years in prison.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia convicted and sentenced Mr Omatseye after finding him guilty on 24 out of 27 counts charge bordering on bid rigging and contract splitting

The EFCC had charged the former NIMASA DG  with N1.5 billion contract scam.

At the last adjourned date on March 14,counsels representing the prosecution and defence had both adopted their final written addresses in court.

Counsel to the accused, Mr Edoka Onyeke, in his address urged the court to discountenance the arguments of prosecution and dismiss the charge against his client.

He argued that the prosecution had not been able to proof its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Onyeke said that out of the 27-count charge preferred against the accused, 25 dealt strictly with the issue of approval of contract above the threshold while the remaining two were on bid rigging.

He maintained that the prosecution did not prove that exhibit PD 16, which it relied on in dealing with the issue of threshold, got to NIMASA at the time the contracts were awarded while he urged the court to discharge his client.

In his argument, the prosecutor, Mr Godwin Obla, urged the court to hold that the case of the prosecution was “as clear as daylight, and had also been proven beyond reasonable doubt”.

He had submitted that the facts of the case spoke volumes, stating that the accused in exhibit PD 1 and 2 clearly articulated his threshold for goods as not exceeding 2.5 million Naira and for works as not exceeding five million Naira.

Obla said that count 25 of the charge, which dealt on threshold was straightforward while he added that sufficient evidence had been adduced to show that the accused awarded contracts above thresholds.

Alleged Scam: Court Defers Ruling On Omatseye’s Case

Raymond Omatseye-Court-ScamA Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday, further reserved May 20 for judgment in a case against Raymond Omatseye.

Omatseye is a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), who was charged with 1.5 billion Naira contract scam.

He was arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 27-count charge bordering on bid rigging and contract splitting.

The suit, which was originally fixed for judgment on Monday, was adjourned at the instance of the court to May 20.

The trial judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, who has been transferred from the Lagos division of the court, is expected to return and deliver the judgment on that date.

At the last adjourned date on March 14, counsels representing the prosecution and defence had both adopted their final written addresses in court.

Counsel to the accused, Mr Edoka Onyeke, in his address urged the court to discountenance the arguments of prosecution and dismiss the charge against his client.

He argued that the prosecution had not been able to proof its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Onyeke said that out of the 27-count charge preferred against the accused, 25 dealt strictly with the issue of approval of contract above the threshold while the remaining two were on bid rigging.

He maintained that the prosecution did not prove that exhibit PD 16, which it relied on in dealing with the issue of threshold, got to NIMASA at the time the contracts were awarded while he urged the court to discharge his client.

In his argument, the prosecutor, Mr Godwin Obla, urged the court to hold that the case of the prosecution was “as clear as daylight, and had also been proven beyond reasonable doubt”.

He had submitted that the facts of the case spoke volumes, stating that the accused in exhibit PD 1 and 2 clearly articulated his threshold for goods as not exceeding 2.5 million Naira and for works as not exceeding five million Naira.

Obla said that count 25 of the charge, which dealt on threshold was straightforward while he added that sufficient evidence had been adduced to show that the accused awarded contracts above thresholds.

He had appealed to the court to so hold, and convict the accused accordingly.

Court Adjourns Fani-Kayode’s Money Laundering Case To July 1

Court Adjourns Fani-Kayode's Money Laundering Case To July 1A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi in Lagos State, south-west Nigeria, has adjourned  to July 1, the 2.1 million Naira money laundering suit against former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia had fixed Thursday for the judgement after the adoption of final written addresses and arguments by the defence and prosecution counsel.

She cited the absence of Prosecuting Counsel, Festus Keyamo, as reason for not delivering the judgement.

The trial in the case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) began in 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed, with an initial charge of laundering about 230 million Naira while Mr Fani-Kayode was a Federal Minister.

The charge was later amended and the amount reduced to 100 million Naira and finally 2.1 million Naira, with the judge dismissing 38 out of the 40 counts leveled by the EFCC against Mr Fani-Kayode.

Fani-Kayode was the Director of Media and Publicity for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation during the 2015 elections.

Court Set To Deliver Judgment On Fani-Kayode’s Alleged Money Laundering Case

Court To Rule On Fani-Kayode's Alleged Money Laundering CaseThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos State, south-west Nigeria, will deliver judgement on Thursday, in the alleged money laundering case against Mr Femi Fani-Kayode.

The trial judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, had fixed the date last month after lawyers representing the Director of Media of Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 Presidential Campaign Organization and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) adopted their final written addresses.

Fani-Kayode was arraigned before the court by the EFCC on a two count charge of laundering the sum of 2.1 million Naira, while he was serving in former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, first as Minister of Aviation and later as Minister of Culture and tourism.

He was specifically accused by the EFCC of conducting financial transactions exceeding 500,000 Naira without going through a financial institution.

However, Fani-Kayode pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

It would be recalled that the former Minister was first arraigned in December 2008, before Justice Ramat Mohammed on a 47-count charge.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and was admitted to bail in the sum of 200 Million Naira with two sureties in like sum.

Fani-Kayode, however, was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, following the transfer of Justice Mohammed from the Lagos Division of the court.

He was also re-arraigned before Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia on February 11, 2013 after the transfer of Justice Murtala-Nyako to the Jos Division of the court.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia had in November last year dismissed 38 out of the amended 40-count charge against him.

The judge, however, said Mr Fani-Kayode would need to prove his innocence in respect of two counts for which judgment would be given on Thursday.

Court Sets June 18 To Deliver Judgment On Fani-Kayode’s Trial

Fani-KayodeA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday fixed June 18 for judgment in the alleged money laundering case filed against a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Rita Ofile-Ajumogobia adjourned for judgment after parties in the suit adopted their final written addresses.

At the resumed hearing on Monday, counsel to Fani-Kayode, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe, urged the court to dismiss the two-count charge against the accused and also discharge and acquit him.

He told the court that the defence relied and adopted its final written address filed on April 7, and its reply on point of law to the prosecution’s written address, dated April 27.

According to Fani-Kayode’s lawyers, the prosecution has failed woefully to prove that the accused received the alleged one million Naira, adding that no witness was brought by the EFCC to substantiate its claim.

“We are convinced that that charge cannot be sustained, because nobody was called to say he gave money to our client.

“It is now an accepted principle of law that the prosecution in all criminal cases must prove its case.

“Nobody gave evidence that he gave or saw the accused collecting money (one millon Naira). The only evidence was that of prosecution witness Supo Agbaje, whom the prosecution had declared wanted”, he said.

Responding, the counsel to the EFCC, Mr Festus Keyamo, told the court that the burden of proof had shifted to the defence to prove the source of money found on Mr Fani-Kayode.

He further stated that failure to provide the court with physical evidence of the source of money was against the Money Laundering Act.

“We have made our final written address; we have closed our case and the defense has also closed its case.

“We have done our best and we expect the court to decide one way or the other”, Keyamo said.

After eight years of legal argument, the Judge, Justice Ofili -Ajumogobia, fixed judgement for June 18.

Court Sets November 17 To Hear Fani-Kayode’s No Case Submission

Femii_Fani-KayodeA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has fixed November 17, to rule on a ‘no-case submission’ filed by a former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode.

Mr Fani-Kayode, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and is standing trial on an amended 40 count charge, of laundering about N100m.

In the ‘no case submission’, he argues that the EFCC has not succeeded in linking him to the charges, a situation which warrants him to make no defence.

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele reports that the case against the former aviation minister will be dismissed if the court agrees with him and upholds his no case Submission.

At today’s sitting, the former minister’s Counsel, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), informed the court of the application for the no case submission and urged the court to adopt his submissions & discharge his client of all 40 counts of money laundering.

The lawyer argued that even though the statement of account of the accused person was put in evidence for which he was required by the prosecution to make explanations, such statement was not prima facie evidence of crime.

Citing the authority of Abacha vs State, the lawyer stressed that by the decision of the Supreme Court, such statements of account could only amount to mere suspicion, suspicion which no matter how well placed, did not constitute a prima facie case.

The prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo, has however opposed the no case submission, and called on the former minister to put his defence forward.

He corrected the notion that the prosecution’s case does not concern lodgement, but transactions which took place before the lodgement.

According to him, “transactions which are done without going through financial institutions, is what comes under the definition of money laundering” and these are the charges against the accused person.

He therefore, urged the court to uphold the objection of the prosecution.

After listening to the submissions of counsels, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned the case to November 17 for ruling.

The former minister, Fani-Kayode was first arraigned sometime in December 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed on a 47-count charge. He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and Justice Mohammed had granted him bail in the sum of N200 Million with two sureties in like sum.

He was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, following the transfer of Justice Mohammed from the Lagos Division of the court.

The accused was again re-arraigned before Justice Ajumogobia on February 11, 2013 after the transfer of Justice Murtala-Nyako.

He was again re-arraigned before Ajumogobia on March 6, following the amendment of the 47-count charge to 40-counts, the EFCC having dropped seven of the counts.

Ajumogobia is the third judge to be ceased of the case in the last five years.

The EFCC opened its case before Justice Ajumogobia on March 10, calling a total of six witnesses including: Investigating Police Officers (IPOs), bank legal officers, bank relationship officer and a former aide to Fani-Kayode.

All witnesses had given various testimonies, as to their relationship with the accused, as well as the manner of investigations conducted on him.

The EFCC closed its case on July 10, while the defence counsel elected to file a no case submission on behalf of the accused on August 5. In the charge, the accused was alleged to have transacted with funds exceeding N500, 000 without going through a financial institution.

The accused was also alleged to have accepted cash payments in the tune of about N100 million, while he held sway as Minister of Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism respectively.

The offence is said to contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1) (a) (b) (c) (d) and 15 (2) (a) (b) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2004.