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Ofili-Ajumogobia challenges court’s jurisdiction to try her

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Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.

A Federal High Court judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, has challenged the jurisdiction of a high court in Lagos to try her over the corruption charges filed against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ajumogobia was charged alongside Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who was accused of giving the judge N5 million. The duo had pleaded not guilty to the 30-count charge filed against them by the anti-graft commission.

However, Ajumogobia, through her counsel, Mr. Olawale Akoni (SAN) and Chief Robert Clark (SAN), filed an application dated April 5, 2017 challenging the jurisdiction of the court to adjudicate over her matter.

When the matter came up yesterday, Clark noted that they have two applications before the court, but one had been treated while the second application is the one challenging the court jurisdiction.

“We have two pending applications before this court and one was taken during the last proceeding but we are yet to receive a response from the court,” Clark said.
 The presiding judge, Justice Oshodi, in his response, said: “You people just shot yourselves at the foot because this application should have been taken first and it is obviously not ripe for hearing
.

“For that same reason, every other application must wait for this particular one to be taken; because if I don’t have jurisdiction, how can the case continue?” But Godwin Obla’s counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), noted that the application before the court is just for the first defendant.

He said: “Even though this is a joint trial, the application before your Lordship is for the first defendant and not of the second defendant.” Clark, however, aligned himself with Adedipe, saying: “If my motion would delay the second defendant’s matter, I would, therefore, withdraw my motion temporarily to allow the defendant take his motion.”

Justice Oshodi in his response said: “This is not a game of chess and this court would not permit such. This is law and not where people play by assumptions or chance.” The judge reiterated that he still maintains his position and adjourned the matter till April 28, 2017 as previously fixed for hearing of the pending application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.

It would be recalled that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was accused of receiving $793,800 in several tranches from different sources between 2012 and 2015.

The anti-graft agency claimed that the embattled judge and the SAN 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 charges preferred against them, after which Justice Oshodi granted them bail on self-recognition.


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