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Court frees Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia of money laundering charges

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
20 November 2021   |   3:08 am
A Federal High Court in Lagos has freed Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia from money laundering charges brought against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

[FILE] Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.<br />

A Federal High Court in Lagos has freed Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia from money laundering charges brought against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The trial Justice Ambrose Lweis- Allagoa discharged Ofili-Ajumogobia while granting her application to quash and dismiss the allegations, filed and argued by her counsel, Olawale Akoni (SAN).

Akoni told the Lagos court that the application was sequel to an order of Justice Binta Nyako of Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, which, he said, had quashed all the recommendations of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The council also told the court that by virtue of the judgment of Justice Nyako, delivered on November 28, 2019, in the suit between Ofili-Ajumogobia and NJC, the judge had quashed the commission’s report and recommendations, and that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia had been reinstated.

However, in his response to the application, counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo told the court that his commission had responded to the application through a counter-affidavit.

In the counter-affidavit deposed to by John Michael Idoko, attached to the Chairman’s Monitoring Unit, he said EFCC was informed by S. I. Suleiman Esq., counsel handling the matter, that Ofili-Ajumogobia had filed an application seeking the court to strike out or quash the charge against her for being incompetent and lack of jurisdiction to try the same.

The deponent stated that the court has the requisite power to hear and determine the allegation of money laundering levelled against the defendant. And that by a petition of December 28, 2017, to the NJC, the commission accused Ofili-Ajumogobia of various acts constituting misconduct under the Code of Conduct of Judicial Officers

He averred that on September 18, 2018, the NJC’s investigating committee, upon the conclusion of the hearing of the petition, submitted its report to the chairman of the council, recommending appropriate sanction to be imposed on Ofili-Ajumogobia by the council.

He added that on November 7, 2018, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces exercised his constitutional power pursuant to Section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and dismissed the applicant as a judge of the Federal High Court.

The deponent stated that upon the exercise of the aforementioned constitutional power, the President equally transmitted a letter to the NJC informing it of his decision. He said Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia has never been acquitted of the offences contained in the instant charge in any court or tribunal of competent jurisdiction within and outside the shores of Nigeria.

He also stated that NJC’s findings and the recommendation to the President and the President’s letter to the council were all on the record before the court.

While ruling on the arguments and submissions by the parties, Justice Allagoa said: “I have look at the application. I have also looked into the counter-affidavit of the prosecution, it is not indeed controverting the application. I am satisfied that the application has merit, the prayers sought for are hereby granted as prayed”.