I received orders to pay money into Ajumogobia’s account, Customs Officer tells court

Mr. Omale Ujah, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs, on Friday told an Ikeja High Court in Lagos how he received orders from above to deposit N12 million into the account of a company owned by embattled Federal High Court Judge, Justice Rita Ofili Ajumogobia.

Ujah is the fifth prosecution witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the ongoing trial of Ajumogobia who was charged alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla for allegedly offering and receiving gratification.

While being led in evidence by the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, Ujah told the court that he was instructed by one Musa Tahir, who was the Deputy Controller-General of Custom to pay the sum of N12m to the account of Nigel and Colive limited, a company owned by Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia.

“In the course of my duty in 2014, the Deputy Controller-General that I was working with, Musa Tahir, came down from the office of the Comptroller-General of Custom and gave me the account number of Nigel and Colive limited.”

“Tahir told me that the CGC said I should transfer the whole sum to Nigel and Colive Limited. And that instruction was carried out,” Ujah said.

He added that he paid the money in three trenches; N4m, N3m and N5m and further stated that no services was rendered by the company to custom before those monies were paid.

Under cross-examination by Ofili-Ajumogobia’s counsel, Chief Robert Clark (SAN), Ujah said in the Nigerian Customs Service, you obey the last order adding that he was not trained to ask questions, so he could not ask what the monies were meant for.

Also testifying, the EFCC’s sixth witness, Mr. Robinson Emafidon, the Head of Regulatory Liaison in the United Bank of Africa, told the court that his bank got a letter from EFCC asking them to provide the statement of account of Obla.

“Sometimes in November, 2016, we received a letter from the EFCC asking us to provide them the account opening documents and statement of account regarding the subject customer.”

“Our response in line with my duties, I got copies of those documents from the archive and printed the account statement which were entries made as transactions of account.”

“I certified them as true copy and I forwarded them with a letter to the EFCC,” Emafidon said.

Emafidon confirmed to the court from the statement of account that the sum of N5m was paid to Nigel and Colive limited.

Under cross-examination by Clark, Emafidon said he did not know if the transfer was for criminal purpose.

He stated further under cross-examination by Obla’s lawyer, Mr Ferdinard Orbih, that he was not personally involved in the inflow and outflow of the transaction.

Earlier at the resumed proceedings on Friday, Clark informed the presiding judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi that he wants to withdraw the application before the court challenging the jurisdiction of the court and Justice Oshodi consequently struck out the application.

However, Orbih, informed Justice Oshodi that he has two applications before the court.

“My Lord, we have two applications before your Lordship, one seeking leave to travel out for medical attention and the other seeking the charge for separate trial,” Orbih said.

Justice Oshodi consequently adjourned to May 26, 2017, for continuation of trial.

It would be recalled that EFCC had alleged that the second defendant, Obla, while appearing in a matter before Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, offered a gratification of N5m to the judge to allegedly induce the judge to refrain from acting in the exercise of her official duties as a public officer.

Ajumogobia was also accused by the anti-graft commission of receiving a total of $793,800 in several tranches from different sources between 2012 and 2015.

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