A witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Uchenna Clement Okaranwolu, on Friday testified that the Delta State Government and several individuals paid huge sums into an account owned by Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Testifying before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, Mr. Okaranwolu, a former staff of Access Bank Plc. who served as an account officer to the embattled judge, revealed that Delta State, as well as other interests, made numerous deposits into the different accounts of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia at Access Bank.
The prosecution witness stated that on August 5, 2011, the state government credited the judge’s account with N15 million and, a few weeks later, on August 29, 2011, the state paid a further N9 million into the judge’s account.
Also, the witness disclosed that one Ken Mozie made a cash deposit of $20,000 into an account owned by the judge. Our correspondent was unable to confirm if the said Mr. Mozie was the same as a well-known lawyer who bears the rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
According to the witness, between January and December 2008, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s accounts received cash deposits totaling $220, 500. He testified that the deposits were made in tranches of ten thousand dollars and twenty thousand dollars.
In addition, Mr. Okaranwolu told the court that, between June 9, 2010, and April 13, 2011, the sum of $110, 000 was paid into the judge’s account by one Donald Ofili in tranches of ten thousand dollars. The EFCC’s witness stated that the judge made some of the deposits directly.
The witness revealed that about $639, 000 was credited into Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s accounts at different points between 2008 and 2013. He told the court that some of the funds he helped lodge into the judge’s accounts were given to him either at the judge’s apartment at Military Street in Onikan, Lagos Island, or at her house in the Lekki area of Lagos. He also disclosed that he sometimes picked up some cash from Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s official quarters at Glover Road in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Another EFCC witness, Abah Saheed, who operated a bureau de change, testified that he paid about three million naira into the judge’s account at Access Bank at the directive of one Ademola Oshodi, who had earlier testified in the judge’s ongoing criminal trial.
After a prolonged examination and cross-examination that lasted more than five hours, the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, moved for an adjournment to enable him to bring more witnesses. Defense counsel Olawale Akonni, who represents Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, and Ifedapo Adedipe, who is defending a second defendant and lawyer, Godwin Obla, did not oppose the adjournment. Justice Oshodi adjourned the trial until April 28, 2017.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and Mr. Obla are being tried on a 30-count charge centered on unlawful enrichment and gratification. 24 out of the 30 counts accuse Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia of unlawfully enriching herself as a public officer contrary to the provisions of Section 82(a) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State No. 11, 2011. The judge is accused of receiving a total of $793,800 in several tranches from different sources between 2012 and 2015.
Both the judge and Mr. Obla have entered pleas of not guilty to the charges.