A court registrar, Oluronke Idowu Rosulu, has been accused of offering to act as a go-between in a scheme to bribe a high court judge presiding over a high-profile fraud case.
The accusation is contained in amended charges filed yesterday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the resumption of a major fraud case against Fred Ajudua, a multiple fraud suspect.
The amendment came in a case that accuses Mr. Ajudua of defrauding a former army General, Ishaya Bamaiyi, of $8.3 million. Prosecutors allege that Mr. Ajudua, who is a lawyer by training, swindled Mr. Bamaiyi of the huge sum of money during the latter’s detention and trial on allegations that he organized the assassination of a pro-democracy activist during the military era.
In the amended charges, Ms. Rosulu, a court registrar with Justice Olubunmi Oyewole, is accused of aiding Mr. Ajudua to scam the former military officer.
The court filings reveal that, between November 2004 and June 2005, Mr. Ajudua funneled the sum of $330,000 through Ms. Rosulu and others. Mr. Ajudua was at the Kirikiri maximum-security prison during the period.
Prosecutors allege that Mr. Ajudua was able to defraud Mr. Bamaiyi by claiming to have close ties with Justice Oyewole, before whom Bamaiyi was standing trial. Mr. Ajudua allegedly persuaded Mr. Bamaiyi to provide some funds to him to enable him to bribe Justice Oyewole. The amended charge sheet alleges that Ms. Rosulu was one of those used in the abortive bribe scheme. Others listed in the scheme include Alumile Adedeji (aka Ade Bendel), one Mr. Jonathan, one Mr. Kenneth, and Princess Hamabon William. The other accused suspects are currently fugitives.
Retired General Bamaiyi, desperate to pervert the course of justice, reportedly shelled out $8.3 million to Mr. Ajudua for the purpose of bribing Justice Oyewole.
The hearing of the amended charges was, however, stalled yesterday as counsel to Mr. Ajudua raised preliminary objections and asked for more time to file fresh applications.
Counsel to the co-accused, Ms. Rosulu, also indicated his plans to file an application apparently seeking to separate charges against Ms. Rosulu from those of Mr. Ajudua.
The presiding judge, Oluwatoyin Ipaye, adjourned the case to July 30 by which time all applications and responses should be submitted.
Apart from the legal issues, the trial has also exposed the extent of the looting of Nigeria’s treasury perpetrated by the country’s former military rulers. Former General Bamaiyi's funds ability to release $8.3 million points to the scale of his stealing of public funds and offers hints to the wider embezzlement engaged in by other officers during the prolonged period of military rule.
A lawyer in court yesterday captured the mood of the scandal when he asked, “Why didn’t the prosecutors also haul the notorious general [Bamaiyi] before the court to stand trial for corruption and graft?”