Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia took agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a wild goose chase as she traveled with them from Lagos to Benin and Asaba in search of properties she claimed her late mother bequeathed to her. However, the search was futile as the judge was unable to show agents the said properties she allegedly inherited from her mother.
An EFCC source told SaharaReporters that a bus carrying Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and a team of anti-corruption agents first arrived in Benin City, the capital of Edo State, because the judge had claimed that some of the $900k she wired abroad from bank accounts in Nigeria was income from properties she ostensibly inherited. She had told EFCC agents that her brother, Donald Ofili, and a lawyer based in Asaba, the Delta State capital, were managing the said properties. However, agents who traveled to Benin City to verify the existence of the houses claimed by the embattled judge as the source of some of her income did not find a single property.
Our source said that the judge, who sat in the back of the bus, often covered herself with a wrapper and muttered into a hand-held device as they drove her to Benin City. According to the source, EFCC agents let the judge be, but occasionally asked her to let them talk to her brother, Mr. Donald Ofili. However, on their arrival in Benin, the judge’s brother reportedly spoke on the phone to EFCC agents, asserting that their mother owned homes in the city, but confessing that his sister had asked him to claim that the $120k he wired into her account came from rental fees. The operatives said that, on discovering that her brother had blown open her game, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia changed tunes and claimed that a lawyer not known to her brother managed the properties. She also told stunned agents that she could not recollect the addresses of the properties. When agents reminded her that her brother also claimed not to know the addresses of the properties, the judge urged the agents to proceed to Asaba, claiming she would then have enough time to contact the mysterious Benin lawyer.
Upset by the judge’s evasive manner, EFCC agents demanded to speak with the lawyer in advance as they drove to Asaba. Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia reportedly rang the so-called lawyer and handed her phone over to an EFCC agent. The man then promised the EFCC agents that he would be waiting to receive them in Asaba, adding that he was visiting a community outside Asaba.
However, once the EFCC agents arrived in Asaba, the judge told them that the lawyer who reportedly managed her properties had traveled to Owerri. Furious, members of the EFCC team demanded to speak again with the lawyer, but his line had been switched off. They demanded that the judge take them to the properties, but she again said she did not know the address. The irate EFCC operatives spent the night in Asaba, but seized the judge’s phone to ensure she would not use it to plot against them. As they disembarked from the bus, the agents discovered that the judge had another phone hidden in her wrapper, which they also took away.
Our source said that, despite taking away the second phone, they discovered the judge continued to mutter under her wrapper during the journey back to Lagos. Once in Lagos, a female EFCC detective searched the judge and discovered that she had hidden up to five phones underneath her clothing. She had also concealed an iPad.
According to our EFCC source, an initial check of the phones showed that the embattled justice was using different phones to communicate with her suspected accomplices perhaps tutoring them to lie to investigators about the source of her inexplicable cash transactions. The source said the phones retrieved from the judge would also be sent to experts for forensic checks.
A senior EFCC source confirmed the drama with Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, adding that the agency was considering revoking the judge’s administrative bail, accusing her of making moves to undermine their investigative tasks.