Alleged Money Laundering: EFCC Re-arraigns Dismissed Federal High Court Judge

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today re-arraigned the dismissed judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia at a Federal High Court in Lagos south West Nigeria on alleged of money laundering.

Arraigned alongside the former judge is a legal practitioner, Chief Godwin Obla SAN, who was not present in court when the judge was first re-arraigned on 18th April, 2019, on 18-count charge bordering on corruption and unlawful enrichment by a public officer.

After the charge was read to the two defendants, Ajumogobia pleaded not guilty to 17 of the 18 counts in which her name was mentioned,while Chief Obla pleaded not guilty to the counts preferred against him.

After the plea of the defendants were taken, the EFCC prosecutor, Barrister Rotimi Oyedepo urged the court to remand Obla in prison custody and fix a date for commencement of trial.

However Chief Ferdinand Orbih SAN, appearing for Obla orally applied for bail. In his submission, he told the court that Obla is a legal practitioner who was called to bar in 1984 and wears the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He therefore urged the court to admit him to bail in liberal terms and defendant to be released to him.

The prosecution did not oppose the bail application but rather asked for a trial date.

Vhief Robert Clark SAN, leading another senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Wale Akoni SAN and five other lawyers for the defence of Rita Ajumogobia told the court that the preliminary objection filed before the court on 13th of May, 2019 on behalf of his client challenging jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter should first of all be trashed out.

In his response, Rotimi Oyedepo told the court that the National Judicial council has recommended that Rita Ofili Ajumogobia should be dismissed and President Mohammadu Buhari has signed her dismissal on 7th of November, 2018.

The presiding Judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa,while adjourning till 23rd of May, 2019 for Oyedepo to produce a copy of the dismissal letter granted bail to Obla in the same condition granted to Ajumogobia when she was first re-arraigned before on the 18th of April, 2019 and ordered him to be released to his lawyer.

TheLagostimes recalls that on the 18th of April, 2019 when she was first arraigned before the court, Rita Ofili Ajumogobia was admitted to bail in the sum of N10 million with one surety in like sum.

The surety, according to Justice Aikawa, must either be a civil servant not below grade level 16 in the Federal or State Civil Service or a resident of Lagos who has a landed property within the court’s jurisdiction with evidence to prove same.

The court also ordered her to deposit her international passport with the court’s Deputy court Registrar and fulfill the other conditions within 10 days excluding holidays.

She was later handed over to her lawyer by the judge pending the fulfillment of the bail conditions,while the judge summoned the second defendant, Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN) who was not in court to appear in court on 15th May, 2019, for his plea to be taken.

The charge marked, FHC/139C/19, reads as thus:
“That you Hon. Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla, SAN, on or about 21st day of May, 2014, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired together to indirectly conceal the sum of N5 million in the Diamond Bank Account of Nigel & Colive Ltd, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: unlawful enrichment and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a), 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

“That you Godwin Obla, SAN, on or about 21st day of May, 2014, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court procured Nigel & Colive Ltd, to retain the sum of N5 million in its Diamond Bank Account on behalf of Hon. Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili-Ajumogobia, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: unlawful enrichment and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (c), 15 (2) (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

“That you Hon. Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili-Ajumogobia, on or about 11th day of July, 2014, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, indirectly conceal the sum of N12 million in the Diamond Bank Account of Nigel & Colive Ltd, opened and operated by you, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: unlawful enrichment and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

“That you Hon. Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili-Ajumogobia, on or about the 21st day of October, 2016 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly made a false statement wherein you stated as follows: “On the 11th July, 2014, the same family that purchased my land, made a further payment of N4 million. That same 11th July, 2014, a further payment of N3 million was paid in as further payment on account of the total price of N33 million. Also on the same day, the same person paid in N5 million 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 you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 39 (2) (a) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004″.

About The Author

A writer, communicator, Graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism and a Christian.

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