By ADEJUWON OSUNNUYI
A staff of Diamond Bank PLC, Ademola Osodi has told a Lagos High Court, Ikeja how Justice Rita Ofili-Agumogobia moved large sum of foreign currencies into her account in the bank.
Osodi was testifying at the ongoing trial of Ofili-Ajumogobia, a serving Justice of the Federal High Court, alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Godwin Obla, who was a former EFCC prosecuting counsel.
Being led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, Osodi told the Court that he had met with Justice Ajumogobia several times collecting money from her and remitting the money in her account.
He narrated that in situations where the sum exceeded the legally allowed N1 million remittance in a trasanction, he would sometimes deposit N500,000, transfer the reminant to his own account, then subsequently re-transfer the sum to the judge’s account, days after.
The prosecution witness, who has now become a branch manager with the bank, also told the court that in cases where the money were in foreign currencies, he normally do secured the services of Bureau De Change Operator who wil help in conversion of the sums.
The accused persons, who are being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged corruption, have been jointly charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice.
Obla was charged with additional two-counts of offering gratification in the sum of N5million to Ofili-Ajumogobia, a public official while carrying out her duties as a judge.
The EFCC alleges that between 2012 and 2015 Ajumogobia received a total of $788,000 from various sources into her Diamond Bank Account with number 0032091183.
Oshodi told the Court, “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 Saidi, a Bureau de Change operator to her when there was a need to change the dollars to naira.
“This mostly happens, when she was not comfortable with a particular transaction.
“There were instances where the deposits exceeded the maximum amount for an individual account, when such instances occur; I pay the maximum amount into her account.
“I then deposit the remaining cash into my account which is paid into her account in subsequent days.”
However, both Ajumogobia and Obla (SAN) pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
However, when EFCC attempted to tender his client’s account statements as evidence, counsel to Ofili-Ajumogobia, Mr Wale Akoni (SAN), however, raised objections on the grounds that he had not reviewed the bank statements.
He told the court that they may not be able to engage in cross-examination of the witness because they have not prepared their defence.
“The first defendant has been in incarceration since November 10. She needs adequate time and facility to defend herself. I humbly seek an adjournment,’’ Akoni said.
Supporting his request for adjournment, lawyer to Obla, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), also said the second defendant had been in incarceration since November 8.
“Given the circumstances in which we had our meetings, it was not even possible to prepare adequately for trial,” Adedipe said. “I will like to request for an adjournment so that we can make judicious use of the time to prepare adequately for trial.”
Justice Hakeem Oshodi agreed with the submissions of defendants’ counsels and subsequently adjourned for continuation of trial to January, 9, 2017.
In granting an adjournment, Justice Oshodi said that the court would accede to the request for adjournment of the trial for the purpose of fair hearing.
“The case is adjourned to January 9, 2017 for continuation of trial,’’ Oshodi said.
Meanwhile, Justice Oshodi granted bail to both defendants on self-recognition.
He however ruled that each of them deposit the sum of N20m each to the court’s Registrar alongside their international passports.
Earlier in the proceeding, counsels to the first and second defendants, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Wale Akoni (SAN) asked the court to grant bail to their clients based on self-recognition or liberal terms.
But in a counter-submission, counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo asked the court to refuse the bail applications saying Justice Ajumogobia has already been interfering with a proof of evidence, specifically, one of the prosecution witnesses. He also argued that if Obla is released he could further attempt to interfere with the proof of evidence.
However, Justice Oshodi said the matter is a bailable offence and that the defendants have no history of jumping bails. He thus admitted the duo to bail on self-recognition.
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