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Why We Re-Arrested Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia – EFCC Explains

Why We Re-Arrested Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia – EFCC Explains

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, April
16, 2019, re-arrested Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia to enable it to
prefer a fresh criminal charge against her.

The Commission re-arrested Ofili-Ajumogobia in line with the decision
of the Appeal Court, Lagos Division, in a case involving Justice
Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, where it said that a judge could not be prosecuted
until he or she had either been dismissed or compulsorily retired by the
National Judicial Council, NJC.

Consequent upon the fact that the Commission had presented Justice
Ofili-Ajumogobia before the NJC for disciplinary action and that the NJC
had taken a position, the Commission would now approach the court to
prefer fresh charges her.

The Commission had first arraigned Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla,
SAN, on a 30-count charge on Monday, November 28, 2016 on offences
bordering on perversion of the course of justice, graft, unlawful
enrichment, providing false information and forgery. They were, however,
re-arraigned on an amended 31-count charge bordering on an alleged
perversion of the course of justice, unlawful enrichment and forgery.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them,
thereby setting the stage for the trial. Having presented 12 witnesses
and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the
court in the course of the trial, counsel to Ofili-Ajumogobia, first
defendant, Robert Clarke SAN, in an application dated November, 27,
2018, said the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case and urged the
court to discharge and acquit his client.

However, Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, counsel for the second defendant,
Obla, on January 25, 2019, told the court that the charges preferred
against his client could be entertained. He, therefore, urged the court
to separate the charges so that his client could continue with his
trial. After listening to both parties, Justice Oshodi ruled that “the
issue of substantive jurisdiction must be cleared before the issue of
no-case submission could be heard.”

The Judge further directed both parties to make their submissions
based on the application on the jurisdiction of the court. In his ruling
at today’s sitting, Justice Akeem Oshodi stated that, based on the
judicial precedent set by the case of Hon. Justice Nganjiwa V. FRN, the
High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit as the EFCC “jumped the
gun” in filing the first amended charge.

The Judge further held that “As at Monday, December 11, 2017, the
EFCC was aware of the decision reached by the Court of Appeal in
Nganjiwa vs FRN. “As at that date, the amended information was yet to be
filed and the 12 prosecution witness was still giving evidence.” In
view of today’s ruling by Justice Oshodi and having complied with the
NJC procedure, the Commission is set to prefer fresh criminal charges
against the first defendant, Ofili-Ajumogobia.

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