Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla, SAN
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has secured a court order to detain a female judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Obla, in connection with alleged N92million bribe.
The judge is under investigation over a strange deposit of N69million ($150,000) into her domiciliary account; another N18 million wired into her foreign account for the purchase of a property in the United Kingdom; and alleged N5million from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Obla.
Also, many choice properties allegedly linked to the judge are being investigated by detectives in Lagos, Edo, and Delta states.
A top source in the EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “As part of the ongoing investigation of the female judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, for a high-net worth bribery allegation, we have secured a court order to detain her and Gowin Obla (SAN).
“The nature of the investigation requires that she should be in custody . Her statements to our investigating team had been contradictory.
“We need to bring her together with other accommplices or suspects to hear from all sides. They will be able to say it as it is.”
Obla and the judge had contradicted themselves before the EFCC team of interrogators.
According to findings, the judge had told the EFCC that the N5million was a part payment for a N40million property she sold to Obla in 2015.
Obla, however, said the cash was meant for buying of building materials (iron rods) for a building he was putting up in Abuja and not for buying of any property.
He said the judge, who was a colleague in the university, only assisted in buying the said building materials.
He said he came across the judge during a trip to Lagos and sought for her assistance to buy the building materials.
A source said: “Obla said the judge gave him the name of someone who plies the trade. She provided the company’s name and the account number for the transaction. Obla said he paid the money and goods were supplied.
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla, SAN
“When asked the name of the trader, receipt of transaction and delivery evidence of the goods, the learned silk said he could not remember the name of the trader or his location, neither was there any receipt or delivery note for the transaction.
Investigation by EFCC detectives confirmed that the N5million was paid into the account of a company in which the judge and her children have interest.
The source added: “The registered company, not known to be engaged in building materials or any viable business is suspected to be surreptitiously set up for the purpose of warehousing proceeds of gratification.
“The same company has been fingered in other illegal transactions, including suspicious payments of sorts by some other persons.”
The National Judicial Council (NJC) had in February sanctioned Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia for misconduct on the bench.
The council also barred her from elevation to the Court of Appeal or taking any judicial appointment.
A statement by the Acting Director of Information of NJC, Mr. Soji Oye, said: “The NJC, under the chairmanship of Justice Mahmud Mohammed, at its meeting on February 24 and 25, 2016 decided to warn Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and put her on the “watch-list” of the council for the next four years.
“The judge will also not be considered for any elevation to the Court of Appeal or any ad hoc judicial appointment till her retirement from the Bench.
“The decision was sequel to the petition written against her by Victoria Ayeni, alleging misconduct and injustice on the part of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia for failing to deliver judgment in Suit No FHC/AB/CS/31/2011, a pre-election matter between Victoria A. A. Ayeni and Olusola Sonuga and two Ors.
“She was also alleged to have adjourned the pre-election matter severally until the termination of the life span of the Ogun State House of Assembly. The decision of the Council on Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is with immediate effect.”