By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Justice O.H. Oshodi of the State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Thursday, June 1, 2017, admitted in evidence a document tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against a serving Federal High Court judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
According to an EFCC statement, Ofili-Ajumogobia is standing trial alongside Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, on a 30-count charge bordering on an alleged perversion of the course of justice, unlawful enrichment and forgery.
The defendants allegedly committed the offence on May 21, 2015, when they conspired to pervert the course of justice with the sum of N5m.
At the last adjourned sitting on May 26, 2017, counsels to the defendants had opposed the admissibility of the evidence given by a prosecution witness, Tauheed Audu Musa, a former Deputy Comptroller General of Customs.
The defence counsels had argued that the evidence given by the Musa, who is the third prosecution witness, PW3, was not reflected in the charges before them and even the court.
Musa had told the court how he was allegedly ordered by his former boss, Dikko Inde, a former Comptroller General of Customs, to give a paper containing Ofili-Ajumogobia’s Diamond Bank account details to one MusaOmale, with a directive that the sum of N12, 000, 000.00 that would be transferred to his ( Omale)’ account should be paid into Ofili-Ajumogobia’s account by him.
However, in her ruling on the admissibility of the evidence today, Justice Oshodi over-ruled the objection raised by O. Akoni, SAN, and Robert Clarke, SAN, defence counsels to the first defendant, and Chief Ferdinard O. Obi, SAN, defence counsel to the second defendant, respectively.
Justice Oshodi ruled that “the witness cannot and should not be rejected from giving evidence in relation to the case.”
Also, in her ruling, Justice Oshodi granted leave to the defendants to seek medical treatment abroad.
Counsel to the first defendant, Akoni, had sought the leave of the court to enable his client, Ofili-Ajumogobia, who is said to be suffering from high blood pressure and stress-related issues, to travel to the US for urgent medical attention.
However, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had opposed the application on the grounds that Ofili-Ajumogobia might jump bail if allowed to travel outside the country for medical attention.
Ruling on the application, the judge said: “I believe that the first defendant as a Federal High Court Judge has a lot to lose if she considers the idea of jumping bail.
“The Chief Registrar is hereby ordered to release the international passport of the first defendant to enable her travel abroad between June 7 and June13, 2017.
“The defendant must return the passport to the Chief Registrar on or before July 1, 2017.”
Justice Oshodi also granted the second defendant, Obla, leave to travel to Houston, Texas, US for medical treatment.
Obla was ordered to return his passport to the Chief Registrar on July 4, 2017.
The case was adjourned to July 6, 2017 for continuation trial.