EFCC Re-arraigns Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla Over Money Laundering Allegations
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Wednesday re-arraigned dismissed former Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, before the Federal High Court Lagos, over allegations of money laundering.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was re-arraigned before Justice Rilwan Aikawa alongside, Godwin Obla, who was absent in court, when she was first arraigned 18th of April.
They were docked on a 12-count charge of unlawful enrichment, illegal concealment, corruption, forgery and giving false information to an official of the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency had alleged that the two defendants allegedly conspired to indirectly conceal the sum of N5, 000,000.00 in the Diamond Bank account of Nigel Et Colive Ltd, which sum they reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful act to wit: unlawful enrichment.
According to the EFCC the offence is contrary to sections 18 (a), 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was also accused of making false statement when she allegedly stated as follows: “on the 11‘“ July, 2014 the same family that purchased my land made a further payment of N 4,000,000. That same 11‘” July,2014, a further payment of N3,000,000 was paid in as further payment on Account of the total price of N33,000,000.
“Also on the same day the same person paid in N5, 000,000.00 which was final payment of the purchase price for the sold land in Rita Ajumogobia Street Asaba” to Lawal Abdullahi, an officer of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in the course of the exercise of his duty and your thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 39(2) (a) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.
They both pleaded not guilty to the charge.
LEADERSHIP recalls that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was rearrested on April 15, few minutes after a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja struck out the corruption charges earlier filed against her by the Commission.
The trial judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi while ruling on a preliminary objection filed by the embattled former judge on Tuesday, struck out the 31-count charge on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit.
Justice Oshodi, who anchored his conclusion on the judicial precedent set by the Court of Appeal in the case of Justice Nganjiwa Vs FRN, held that the anti-graft agency had “jumped the gun” in filing the first amended charge.
The judge also held that the commission had not followed the procedures set by the National Judicial Council (NJC) in disciplining erring judicial officers.
The National Judicial Council (NJC) had on October, 3, 2018 recommended the dismissal of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia to President Muhammadu Buhari who is yet to effect the recommendation.
Justice Aikawa granted the duo bail in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum, who must have landed property In Lagos.
“The surety must not be below Grade Level 16 in the federal or state civil service.
The defendants must deposit his international passport with the deputy chief registrar of the court.
“The defendants shall endeavour to fulfil the conditions within 10-days or the bail will be revoked.
Also during the proceedings, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, Chief Robbort Clark (SAN) informed the court of a pending motion filed on the 13th of May challenging the jurisdiction of this court to entertaining the charge against his client.
Clark also told the court that the substance of the charge have been decided by Justice Oshodi of the state high court
According to him, the charge was struck out base on the Appeal Court decision in Njangiwa’s case where it was decided that no judicial officer can be trial unless such NJC have sanctioned such judge.
But the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo said that the position have since changed on the seventh of November, 2018 when president Muhammadu Buhari approved the recommendation of NJC that Justice Ajumogobia for dismissal.
Justice Aikawa adjourned the case to 23rd of May to hear arguments the preliminary objection