Justice Raliat Adebiyi of the Lagos High Court has come under immense pressure from senior lawyers to discharge and acquit Mr. Joseph Nwobike ( SAN), who is facing a criminal trial for alleged inducement to pervert the course of justice.
Justice Adebiyi had, during the week, reserved judgment in the case to 30 April after counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, enumerated and adopted his final written address for the prosecution. Same was also done by Mr. Nwobike's counsel, Mr Olawale Akoni(SAN) for the defence.
SaharaReporters authoritatively gathered that a delegation of senior lawyers have visited Justice Adebiyi's in Ibadan to ask the old man to prevail on her daughter not to convict Mr. Nwobike. They told Justice Adebiyi's father that in the event of a conviction, many senior lawyers engaged in similar acts of “kindness” to judges will be left vulnerable.
Mr. Nwobike was first arraigned on a five -count charge on 9 March 2016 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which claimed that Nwobike offered N750,000 and N300,000 gratifications to Justices Mohammed Yunusa and Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, respectively. Both judges are of the Federal High Court.
The EFCC claimed that Nwobike offered them the money allegedly to pervert the course of justice. EFCC's lawyer, Mr. Oyedepo, claimed that Nwobike acted contrary to Section 97 (3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No. 11, 2011. But the lawyer pleaded not guilty.
Canvassing final arguments, Mr. Nwobike’s lawyer, Mr. Akoni, urged the court to discharge and acquit his client, arguing that the EFCC failed to substantiate its allegations against his client.
The Defence counsel said contrary to the claim by the EFCC, the N750,000 that Mr. Nwobike gave to Justice Yunusa was not a bribe but “for the specific purpose of helping the (sick) mother of the gentleman”.
He said all the judgments which the EFCC claimed that Nwobike paid Justice Yunusa to give in his favor were all upheld by the Court of Appeal.He urged Justice Adebiyi to dismiss the charges and set Mr. Nwobike free. But the EFCC prosecution counsel urged the court to convict Mr. Nwobike.
“Could it be said that in line with the evidence of PW1 to PW7, the exhibits that we have tendered and the evidence elicited from the defendant during cross-examination, the defendant did not commit the offense he was charged with?” Mr.Oyedepo asked.
He noted that Nwobike did not deny giving N750,000 to Justice Yunusa when he had cases before the judge, adding that it was no defence that the Court of Appeal upheld Justice Yunusa’s judgments.
“The only gifts that are allowed are complimentary gifts – cards, books,”
“As it stands today in our administration of criminal justice system, both the giver and the receiver of gratification are suspects, so, if that is taken, the evidence of Justice Yunusa, who is the recipient of the gratification, a co-accused, cannot incriminate another accused. His evidence goes to no issue,” he said.
Mr. Oyedepo noted that the judges have already been separately charged in relation to the allegations. He urged the judge to apply full probative value to all the evidence given by the prosecution and convict Mr. Nwobike accordingly.
After listening to both parties, Justice Adebiyi fixed Monday, 30 April for judgement.