EFCC re-arraigns Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla for alleged graft
Former judge of the Federal High Court, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, was yesterday re-arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos for alleged corruption.She was re-arraigned alongside Godwin Obla (SAN), a former prosecutor of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC had earlier arraigned the duo on a 30-count charge bordering on corruption before the Ikeja High Court.On February 23, 2018, EFCC amended the 30-count charge to 31 counts.Justice Hakeem Oshodi had struck out the charge against Mrs. Ofili-Ajumogobia and Mr. Obla on the grounds that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
The former judge was, however, re-arrested by operatives of the anti-graft commission as she was leaving the Ikeja High Court premises after the charge was struck out.During their re-arraignment yesterday before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, the suspects pleaded not guilty to an 18-count charge bordering on unlawful enrichment, corruption, forgery and giving false information.
Granting bail to the defendants, the trial judge had adopted the same terms and conditions granted to Ofili-Ajumogobia on April 18 when she was first arraigned. However, Obla was absent in court, which prompted the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, to urge the court to grant an order compelling him to appear. Obla, who was present in court yesterday, was granted bail in the same term and conditions earlier granted when he was first arraigned following an oral application by his counsel, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN). He was granted bail in the sum of N10 million with one surety in like sum who must have landed property in Lagos.
“The surety must not be below Grade Level 16 in the federal or state civil service.“The defendant must deposit his international passport with the deputy chief registrar of the court, and shall endeavour to fulfil the conditions within 10 days or the bail will be revoked.
“The defendant shall be released to his lead counsel, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), pending the expiration of 10 days,” the judge ruled.Counsel to the first defendant, Chief Robert Clerk (SAN), however informed the court of a pending motion filed on the May 13, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charge pressed against his client.
He said the substance of the charge had been decided in Lagos High Court Ikeja, when it was struck out based on the Appeal Court decision in Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa’s case where it was decided that no judicial officer could be tried unless NJC had sanctioned such judge.Oyedepo, on his part, said the position had since changed on November 7, 2018 when President Muhammadu Buhari approved NJC’s recommendation that Ofili-Ajumogobia be dismissed.Justice Aikawa adjourned the case till May 23 for continuation of proceedings.