Witness told court how Ofili-Ajumogobia borrowed N18m to buy property
The founder, Cheif Executive Officer of Arkleel Oil and Gas, Dr Gregory Ero has told a Lagos High Court, Ikeja how embattled Federal High Court Judge, Justice Rita Ofili Ajumogobia stopped picking his calls after she borrowed N18 million from him to buy a property in the UK.
Ero in his testimony before Justice Hakeem Oshodi claimed that despite Ajumogobia promising to repay the money after sometime, she stopped picking his calls.Ero is the ninth prosecution witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the ongoing bribery and corruption trial of Ajumogobia and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla,
According to him, I knew Ajumogobia sometimes in 2002 before she became a Federal High Court Judge. She was employed when we outsourced for a secretary.“She was paid ad hoc fees as we did not have a regular structure as at then. She worked with us for two years before she was appointed as a Judge.
“She came to our office one day after she stopped working with us and sought to have a private audience with me. I obliged and she asked for a loan of N18 million because she had pressing needs.
“I enquired what the urgency was about and Ajumogobia told me that she had a shortfall of N18m for a property she wanted to buy in the UK as she needed to move out of the family house immediately.
“As a Christian, I obliged her request and also based on the fact that she is known to me. She went further to tell me that she has properties, which would generate rent while also giving me a payment plan for the repayment of the loan.
“Sadly after a year, she did not pay back. I started calling her and she would pick my call. But between 2012 and 2013 she stopped picking my calls. I personally went to her house but I was turned back at the gate when I was informed that she was not around. I went to her house more than twenty times but I was always turned back at the gate.
“I am disappointed in Ajumogobia as I find her actions bizarre. Up till now, she has refused to pay me my money. I still need my money as the money was taken from our retail earnings. I have not written it off, I still need my money,” he explained.
So also, a Deputy Comptroller General of Customs, Tahir Audu Musa in his testimony told the court that the Comptroller General of Customs Abdullai Dikko Inde gave him a slip of paper which contained the name, Nigel and Colive, a company owned by Ajumogobia.
He said, “The DG sometimes in 2014 called me back and gave me the name of the company directing me to tell one Musa Omale to liaise with some area comptrollers and transfer 1 million each to Omale’s account for onward transfer to the company’s account.
“The Customs Commands mentioned are: Apapa, Tincan Island, Kirikiri Landing Terminal, Murtala Mohammed, Federal and Sea, Onne Air and Ogun State Command, Tahir said.He noted that he did not know why the money was paid into Nigel and Colive’s account.
However, when the hearing was ongoing, Obla’s counsel, Ferdinand Oby (SAN) urged the court, to withdraw two earlier applications seeking severance and separate trial by his client.
Oby told the court of an application praying for the release of his client’s international passport in order for him to travel to Houston, Texas for medical purposes.
However, Ajumogobia’s counsel, Olawale Akoni (SAN) applied for a 30 days medical leave for his client, on the grounds of ill health.
Responding to their submission, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo objected to Ajumogobia’s application on the grounds that it was a ploy by the defence to stall the trial.The presiding judge subsequently adjourned ruling on the matter till June 1, 2017.
It would be recalled that EFCC alleged that Ajumogobia received a total of $793, 800 in several tranches from different sources between 2012 and 2015.Ajumogobia was also alleged to have given false information to anti-graft agency, claiming to be on admission in Lagos which was found out to be false, an offence contrary to section 39 (2a) of the EFCC Establishment Act.