EFCC Re-Arraigns Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, Godwin Obla
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal office, on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, arraigned Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla, SAN, before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on an 18-count charge bordering on breach of trust, false statement and unlawful enrichment.
The first defendant, Ofili-Ajumogobia had been arraigned on April 18, 2019, in spite of the absence of the second defendant, Obla, who was charged alongside with her.
One of the counts reads: "That you, Hon. Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla, SAN, on or about the 21st day of May, 2014 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired to indirectly conceal the sum of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) in the Diamond Bank account of Nigel & Colive Ltd., which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful act to wit: unlawful enrichment."
Another count reads: "That you, Hon. Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili-Ajumogobia, on or about the 11th day of July, 2014 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, indirectly concealed the total sum of N12,000,000.00 (Twelve Million Naira) in the Diamond Bank account of Nigel and Colive Ltd., opened and operated by you, which sum you reasonably ought to have known, forms parts proceeds of unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust."
The defendants pleaded "not guilty" to the charges when read to them.
In view of their pleas, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, asked for a trial date and prayed the court to remand the second defendant, Obla, in prison pending the determination of the case.
However, counsel to the second defendant, Chief Ferdinand Obi, SAN, made an oral application, urging the court to admit his client to bail on self-recognizance.
In his response, Oyedepo stated that "the issue of bail regarding the second defendant is left at the discretion of the court."
Counsel to the first defendant, Robert Clarke, SAN, informed the court that he had filed and served on the prosecution an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to further hear the suit filed against his client by the EFCC.
He added: “My client still remains a judicial officer and is yet to be dismissed as a judge by President Muhammadu Buhari."
However, Oyedepo, in his response, told the court that the first defendant is no longer a judicial officer.
Though Oyedepo admitted he was served with the application, he told the court that “the President of Nigeria, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, signed and dismissed Ofili-Ajumogobia as a judicial officer on November 27, 2018".
He further told the court that he would provide the court with the original document that dismissed Ofili-Ajumogobia as a judge.
However, Justice Aikawa told the prosecution to file a response to the objection raised by the defence and put all necessary documents before the court at the next adjourned date.
Consequently, Justice Aikawa granted bail to Obla on the same terms and conditions given to Ofili-Ajumogobia at the April 18, 2019 proceedings.
Justice Aikawa admitted the second defendant, Obla, to bail in the sum of N10 million, with one surety in like sum.
The surety must be a civil servant not below Grade Level 16 or a person with a landed property within the jurisdiction of the court.
The court also directed the defendant to deposit his international passport with the Court’s Registrar.
The judge also held that the bail conditions must be perfected within 10 days.
Justice Aikawa further stated that the first defendant, Ofili-Ajumogobia "shall continue to enjoy her bail granted her by the court."
Justice Aikawa adjourned the case to May 23, 2019, for hearing of preliminary objection.