Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court is in fresh trouble for allegedly receiving N5m from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Punch reports.
The report reveals that sources within the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission explained that the SAN had been invited to explain what the money was meant for.
A detective in the EFCC said, “We have evidence that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia collected N5m from a senior advocate. We have invited him (the SAN) and he is supposed to appear this week.”
The judge in question identified as Ofili-Ajumogobia had last year acquitted a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode. She is said to own properties worth almost a billion naira in Lekki, Ikoyi and London.
Earlier in the year, the National Judicial Council barred her from getting any promotion for the remainder of her career.
It has been revealed that at least 10 SANs and five other lawyers are in trouble for allegedly bribing some judges. It is believed the senior advocates pay money into the bank accounts of the judges while some others sent cash to the judges via proxies. They do so in order to get favourable judgement from the judges.
Some of the senior advocates who had been quizzed by the EFCC include the National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress, Dr. Muiz Banire; Norrison Quakers, Rickey Tarfa, Chief Felix Fagbohun, Paul Usoro, Joseph Nwobike and Valentine Obi.
Four lawyers, who are not senior advocates, were also quizzed. They are Lai Arikewuyo, Titus Orimijupa, Bayo Onitubora and Iniebong Etek.
It was learnt that three other SANs – Joe Gadzama, who contested the Presidency of the Nigerian Bar Association; Chief Adeniyi Akintola and Godwin Obla – had also been invited by the commission as well as another lawyer, Mr. Kola Olateru.
A source at the commission said, “We quizzed them because they had at one time or the other deposited money into the bank accounts of judges. Many of them claimed the money was not a bribe but the troubling element there is that some of them had cases before the judges.
“For instance, Justice Terseer Fishim of the Industrial Court was handling the cases of some of the SANs in question and yet he received N550, 000 and N200,000 from two SANs.”
It has been reported that the intergity of most of the judges in Nigeria have been compromised as it is alleged they are in the habit of collecting bribes in order to influence judgment allowing them to live a live of luxury and own many mansions in and outside Nigeria.
Apart from Fishim and Ofili-Ajumogobia, other judges interrogated by the EFCC included Uwani Abba-Aji of the Court of Appeal; Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court; Nganjiwa Hyledzira of the Federal High Court; and Musa Kurya of the Federal High Court.
A Federal High Court Registrar, Helen Ogunleye, was also arrested and quizzed by the EFCC. The commission alleged that her modus operandi was to refer lawyers to judges willing to cooperate for a fee.
“We have evidence that she gave one of the judges money at the Federal High Court in Jos. We are still investigating the matter,” the source said.