Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), SaharaReporters can exclusively reveal, is meddling in the trial of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court, who standing trial along with Mr. Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on a 30-count charge bordering on alleged perversion of the course of justice, unlawful enrichment and forgery She is alleged to have received the sum of $579,300 and N57.09 million in tranches between 2007 and 2014.
A letter (CJN/PTA/A70/S./VOL.III/256) exclusively obtained by this website, showed that Justice Onnoghen granted Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia permission to travel abroad for medical attention.
The letter titled, “Re-Application For Permission To Travel Overseas For Urgent Medical Attention”, was the CJN’s reply to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s request.
It was signed by Mr. Anikpo Awasam Bassey, Special Assistant to the CJN on Media. Dated 31 March 2017, the letter was an express permission to leave the country.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s written request permission to travel was dated 13 March and routed through Justice Ibrahim, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court. Her letter was received on 31 March and the CJN gave permission the same day.
“May I please refer to your letter dated 13th March 2017, which was received on 31st March, 2017 on the above subject matter and to inform you that His Lordship, The Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, has given his approval for you to travel to the United States of America to see a consultant at Moms Heights Health Centre, Bronx, New York, from 13th April, 2017 to 26th April, 2017. His Lordship wishes you a happy and successful trip to New York, USA,” the letter read.
Prior to obtaining the CJN’s permission to travel, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s application for the same matter was rejected by Justice O H Oshodi of the Lagos State High Court.
On 10 April, Mr. Idris Muhammad told the Lagos State High Court that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia had, through her counsel, Mr. Robert Clarke, sought the leave of court to travel out of the country for medical reasons in an application dated 7 March.
Mr. Muhammad also told the court that Mr. Clarke had filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court. The application was dated 4 April.
Justice Oshodi refused Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s application on the ground that her application challenging the court’s jurisdiction must be determined before other issues could be considered.
The same day, the court also declined Mr. Obla’s an application to travel abroad for medical reasons.
“Whatever decisions made by the court in the matter must affect both parties since it is a joint trial,’’ said Justice Oshodi.
As a result, the accused judge sought a temporary withdraw the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court. But Justice Oshodi said the application would be heard ahead of other pending applications because it had been brought before the court.
The CJN is reportedly interfering with several corruption cases in various court to protect corrupt elements and cronies. Recently, the CJN as leader of the Nigerian Judicial Council reinstated several corruption-tainted judges to resume sitting after they were indicted for corruption by security agencies.