Saturday, 18 March 2017

Federal judge, Ofili-Ajumogobia, got $.5 million from Delta govt, Witness tells Court

A prosecution witness, Uchenna Okaranwolu, in the ongoing trial of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia has narrated how the federal judge received $579,300 as well as N57, 096,000 in tranches between 2007 and 2014. Mr. Okaranwolu, an insurance sales man, was previously the account officer of Mrs. Ofili-Ajumogobia between 2008 and 2009 when he worked as the relationship officer of Access Bank Nig. Plc. He told the Lagos State High Court on Friday that cheques of N15 million and N9 million, from Oceanic and Zenith banks respectively, were issued by the Delta state government on August 5, 2011, and August 29, 2011, and cleared and deposited into Mrs. Ajumogobia’s account. Mrs. Ajumogobia is being prosecuted alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The judge and the senior lawyer were arraigned on November 28, 2016, on 30 counts of bribery and money laundering. The EFCC, in the charges, alleged that Mr. Obla, while appearing in a suit number FHC/L/C/482c/2010 before Justice Ajumogobia, offered a gratification of N5 million to the judge to allegedly induce the judge to refrain from acting in the exercise of her official duties as a public official. Mrs. Ajumogobia was also accused of receiving a total of $793,800 in several tranches from different sources between 2012 and 2015 “so as to have a significant increase in your assets that you cannot reasonably explain the increase in relation to your lawful income.” The EFCC claimed that the judge and Mr. Obla acted contrary to sections 64 (1) and 97 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No. 11, 2011. They both pleaded not guilty to the offences. At the resumed hearing on Friday, Justice Hakeem Oshodi ruled against the admissibility of the third witness’ statement. According to him, “this ruling has to do with the admissibility of the document, we must have it in mind that this is a criminal trial. To this court this matter issue have been resolved in Afam versus the State and in this respect the court finds and holds that the document is rejected and remains rejected.” The prosecution witness confirmed to the court that he deposited cash sums into two accounts with account numbers 0002130929 and 0002649223, a domiciliary and a credit card account, on the orders of Mrs. Ajumogobia and that “she comes into the bank and sometimes because of the queue writes cheques in my name and as a staff of the bank I cash the cheque and give it to her.” Mr. Okaranwolu, also confirmed that between September 3, 2013, and February 21, 2014, the embattled judge’s account had an entry of $54,400 and that he met with Mrs. Ajumogobia for “the collection of the money at the house and sometimes in the bank.” The case was later adjourned to the 28th of April, 2017, for continuation of trial.

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