A judge of a Federal High Court Lagos, Rita Ngozi Ofili Ajumogobia and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla were on Monday arraigned before an Ikeja High Court for crimes ranging from giving and taking gratification to forgery and giving false information.
The duo was charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 30-count charge.
Obla, a former prosecutor with the EFCC, was mentioned in the first four counts while Ajumogobia’s name was mentioned in all the counts.
The presiding Judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi granted them bail on self recognisance and ordered them to deposit N20 million in the Chief Registrar’s account.
In one of the counts, Ajumogobia was said to have tried to pervert the course of justice by collecting N5 million through her account 1015319084 domiciled in UBA from Obla.
Obla was also accused of giving gratification of N5million to a public officer (Ajumogobia) by paying the money directly into her UBA account.
The anti-graft agency accused the judge of enriching herself with N8million which she could not give reasonable explanation.
She was accused of collecting the money through her account 002112967 domiciled in Access Bank. She was further accused of collecting $130,000, sometimes in May 2013.
“That you, Rita Ngozi Ajumogobia being a judge at that time, collected $20,000 through your Diamond Bank account,” one of the charges read.
Ajumogobia was further accused of collecting $150,000, $70,000, $20,000, $55,000, $50,000, $30,000,$10,000, $68,000, $78,000, all collected through her Diamond bank account between 2012 and 2015.
Ajumogobia was further accused of collecting N7million from one Paul Iloba Obanuwa while also collecting another N18m from one Saheed Danladi Abu.
The EFCC further accused her of forging a deed of assignment purportedly signed by one Charles Musa Esq.
Ajumogobia on 19th of October 2016, was also accused of lying to the EFCC that she was critically ill and admitted Gold Cross Hospital in Bourdillon in Ikoyi.
They, however, both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo SAN however asked that the defendants to be remanded in prison pending the hearing of their bail application and asked for a date so that they can respond to the defendant’s bail application.
The presiding judge, Justice Oshodi however asked the defendants counsel, Olawale Akani SAN who represented Ajumogobia and Ifeday Adedipe SAN who represented Obla to move their bail applications.
In moving their applications, both counsels asked the court to admit the defendants bail on self recognizance adding that they are law abiding citizens who have never been accused of such crimes within or outside Nigeria, while also adding that they were not flight risks.
Ruling on their bail application, Justice Oshodi granted them bail on self recognizance and also ordered both of the defendants to deposit N20 million in the Lagos State High Court Registrar’s account.
“Both defendants should deposit N20 million in the Chief Registrar’s account within seven days their bail would be revoked,” Justice Oshodi ruled.
The judge also ordered them to deposit their international passport with the Chief Registrar.
When the EFCC was asked for an adjournment, the Judge said he saw no reason why trial could not go on immediate. He therefore ordered EFCC to call their first witness.
The witness, Ademola Oshodi who is an account officer with Diamond Bank, told the court that Ajumogobia sometimes invited him to her Chambers within the premises of the Federal High Court to collect money which he would deposit in her account.
He also added that he enlisted the services of a bureau de change operator who helped with change the foreign currency he got from Ajumogobia to the naira equivalent.
Counsel to Obla, Adedipe SAN, however, raised an objection to the immediate start of trial adding that he had not had opportunity to confer with his client whom he said had been in EFCC custody since November 8, and that he had only visited him twice.
Akanni SAN (Ajumogobia’s counsel) also said that he needed time to prepare for trial, adding that his client’s reputation was at stake.
Justice Oshodi consequently adjourned the matter till January 9, 2017 for continuation of trial.
During questioning, Ajumogobia and Obla allegedly gave conflicting answers to the EFCC. While Obla said the N5million was for a building project Ajumogobia was helping him with, Ajumogobia said the money was a loan from Obla.