By Adejuwon Osunnuyi
An Ikeja High Court has been told of how the embattled serving judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili-Ajumogobia opened a corporate account with Diamond Bank for her company with the address of an uncompleted building, contrary to the stipulated rules guiding opening of such account.
An official of the Bank, Mr. Ademola Oshodi, disclosed this before Justice Hakeem Oshodi at the resumed trial of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN), a prosecutor with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
On November 28, 2016, the duo were arraigned by EFCC on November 28, 2016 before Justice Oshodi on a 30-count charge bordering on perversion of the course of justice, graft, unlawful enrichment, providing false information to the EFCC and forgery.
According to the charge sheet, four of the charges which directly concerned Obla are centred on an alleged N5 million bribe given to the judge by the senior advocate, while the remaining 25 charges are on the huge amounts that passed through the accounts of Ofili-Ajumogobia and her alleged inability to explain her source of wealth.
The EFCC alleged that about $793,800 passed through the judge’s domiciliary accounts between 2012 and 2015.
The judge allegedly used the money to buy a house in London.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges and were granted bail on self-recognisance as prayed by their counsel, Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN) for Ofili-Ajumogobia and Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) for Obla, despite stiff opposition by the prosecution led by Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo on the grounds that they might interfere with investigation and prosecution witnesses.
Explaining further on one of the judge’s accounts with the bank, which is her corporate account with the number 0036103605 with the Nigel & Colive, the banker, while being led in evidence by counsel to the EFCC, Oyedepo, told the court the requirements for opening such accounts includes filling of a Corporate Account form and submission and verification necessary documents of the company with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
According to Oshodi, all the account opening requirements were satisfied by the judge except for the address given as the company’s location, 18, Lai Bende St, Fajuyi Estate, which turned out to be an uncompleted building owned by the judge.
The witness said the location of the company being a building under construction could have stalled the corporate account opening but the bank went ahead to open the account based on the fact that the judge is a good customer of the bank and the fact that the uncompleted building is owned by the judge.
“Before opening the corporate account for Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, she filled a corporate account opening form and submitted the company’s document which was verified from Corporate Affairs Commission.
“We also did a physical visitation to the company’s address given as 18, Lai Bende St, Fajuyi Estate and found that the building was still under construction but because Justice Ajumogobia is our customer and we knew that the property belong to her we proceeded to open the count.”, he said.
At the last hearing, Oshodi, had earlier, told the court that he managed the bank accounts of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, with number 0029928474, 0032091183 and 0036103605 domiciled in the bank.
The banker told the court that he regularly visited Justice Ofiili-Ajumogobia’s home and also chambers on the premises of the Federal High Court on Oyinkan Abayomi Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos, where Ofili-Ajumogobia is a judge, to collect huge cash sums mostly in dollars to be deposited in the judge’s account.
The witness said whenever the money was above the lawful threshold that could be deposited in the judge’s account, he would split the money into two, deposit a portion into Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s account and the remaining portion in his own personal account.
The banker explained that he would subsequently transfer the money from his personal account to the judge’s account.
“I used to meet the judge in her chambers and sometimes in her home, where I’d receive the foreign currency, which was U.S. dollars to deposit into her bank account.
“I introduced one Abba Said, a Bureau de Change operative to her when there was a need to change the dollars to naira.
“There were instances where the deposits exceeded the maximum amount for an individual account, when such instances occured, I paid the maximum amount into her account.
“I would then deposit the remaining cash into my account which was paid into her account in subsequent days,” Oshodi told the court.
Justice Oshidi adjourned the matter to January 30 for continuation of trial.
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