- A suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against a dismissed judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, has been struck out
- An Ikeja high court struck out the suit on Tueaday, April 16 alongside that of Godwin Obla (SAN)
- The EFCC alleged that Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia illegally received a sum of 793,800 dollars in several tranches from different sources between 2012 and 2015
An Ikeja high court on Tuesday, April 16, struck out the corruption suit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed against Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, a dismissed judge of the Federal High Court, and Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
Delivering a ruling, Justice Hakeem Oshodi held that based on the judicial precedent set by the case of Justice Nganjiwa vs FRN, the high court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit as the EFCC “jumped the gun” in filing the first amended charge, NAN reports.
Legit.ng noted that he said in spite of the anti-graft commission being aware of the decision in Nganjiwa’s case, regarding the proper procedure to discipline erring judicial officers, the EFCC still went ahead with the trial by calling more witnesses.
Justice Oshodi said: “As at Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, the EFCC was aware of the decision reached by the Court of Appeal in Nganjiwa vs FRN. As at that date, the amended information was yet to be filed and the 12th prosecution witness was still giving evidence.
“The prosecution persisted like a bull running amok and still called two more witnesses and precious judicial time was wasted.
“We have not found a way in the judicial atmosphere to discipline or penalise an agency of government through fines or costs.
“In conclusion, the court has no jurisdiction to hear the first amended charge of Feb. 21, 2018 of 31 counts. This suit is hereby struck out.”
The anti-graft commission in an amended charge dated Feb. 23, 2018, had alleged that Ofili-Ajumogobia had illegally received a sum of 793,800 dollars in several tranches from different sources between 2012 and 2015.
Obla (SAN) was alleged by the EFCC to have offered a sum of N5 million as gratification to Ofili-Ajumogobia, so as to pervert the course of justice.
During proceedings on January 25, Rotimi Oyedepo, the lead prosecuting counsel for the EFCC via a written address dated December 13, 2018, urged the court to strike out the charge because the EFCC did not charge Ofili-Ajumogobia in line with the NJC guidelines.
Robert Clarke (SAN), the defence counsel to Ofili-Ajumogobia in an application dated November 27, 2018, had said the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, and had urged the court to discharge and acquit his client.
Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), the defence counsel to Godwin Obla (SAN), Ofili-Ajumogobia’s co-defendant, urged the court to separate the joint charges of the defendants.
Addressing the issues raised in the submissions of the defence counsel on January 25, Justice Oshodi in Tuesday’s ruling, said court cannot discharge Ofili-Ajumogobia, neither can the charges against Obla be severed.
He said: “The order of discharge for the first defendant cannot hold. The court cannot also serve a charge as proposed by the counsel to the second defendant.
“The charge has to be amended and the second defendant has to retake his plea."
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that there was drama at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Monday, April 15, during proceeding in the trial of the suspended chief justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, as a member of the prosecution team was sacked.
The member of the prosecution team, Professor Zainab Duke, attempted to speak to the bench when the leader of the team, Aliyu Umar (SAN), was making his announcement, but was shouted down by the latter.
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