The Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos on Friday dismissed the preliminary objection filed by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia challenging her trial before the court.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa ruled that justice Ajumogobia is no longer a judicial officer because she has been dismissed by the President on the recommendation of the NJC, therefore she can be tried for any criminal offence accused of.
Consequently, the judge adjourned her trial until October 24 and 25.
Justice Rita had filed the application before the court, challenging its jurisdiction on the grounds she is still a judicial officer, and until she ceases to be she could not be tried by a court.
Justice Aikawa stated that with the letter presented by the EFCC, the president had already dismissed Ajumogobia on November 6, 2018, and therefore she was no longer a judicial officer.
Justice Aikawa also held that the fact that the exhibit presented by EFCC letter From The president dismissing her qualified it to be admissible.
He said the president had approved the recommendation of dismissal from the NJC by the letter.
So its not a question of whether it was published or not. The intention of the president was clearly expressed in that letter sent on November 6, 2018.
The embattled former judge, through her counsel, Chief Robert Clarke, had on the 25th of June agued an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear her trial, noting that the President’s approval for her dismissal had not been gazetted.
Ajumogobia's re-arraignment came after Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja struck out the 30 counts, bordering on the same offences which the EFCC filed against the judge in 2016.
Justice Oshodi struck out the 30 counts against Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and her co-accused, Obla, following an application by the EFCC for the withdrawal of the charges.
The EFCC said it withdrew the 30 counts to comply with the Court of Appeal’s decision in Justice Nganjiwa’s case that a serving judge could not be prosecuted except he or she had been investigated, found guilty and sanctioned by the National Judicial Council.
After filing the earlier 30 counts before Justice Oshodi, the EFCC later filed a petition against Justice Ajumogobia before the NJC.
Upon considering the petition, the NJC found her guilty and recommended her to President Muhammadu Buhari for dismissal from the Federal High Court bench.
The EFCC said the NJC’s decision paved the way to prosecute her in line with the appellate court’s decision in Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa’s case.