…Court refuses DSS report as evidence in Magu’s libel suit
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday re-arraigned the dismissed Federal High Court judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, for alleged money laundering at the Federal High Court, Lagos. She was charged along with a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Godwin Obla, who was absent during the arraignment.Justice Rilwan Aikawa issued a summons for him to appear on the day fixed for trial. When the case was called for the defendants to take their pleas, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said efforts to reach Obla failed.
He said the SAN’s phones were switched off and that his lawyer could not confirm his whereabouts.He, therefore, urged the court to issue summons for Obla and allow Ajumogobia to take her plea alone.The court granted the prayer and the charges were read to Ofili-Ajumogobia.
The EFCC said she and Obla conspired on May 21, 2014 to indirectly conceal and retain N5 million in the Diamond Bank account of Nigel & Colive Ltd. Ofili-Ajumogobia was also accused of indirectly concealing N12 million in the same account, indirectly retaining $150,000 in her account on May 30, 2013, among others.
After pleading not guilty to the 18-count charge, Ofili-Ajumogobia’s counsel, Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN), urged the court to grant her bail on self-cognisance. Oyedepo opposed the application on the basis that the National Judicial Council (NJC) on corruption-related offences had dismissed Ofili-Ajumogobia.
But Akoni said Ofili-Ajumogoba remains a judge until President Muhammadu Buhari ratifies the NJC decision.Ruling, Justice Aikawa held that Ofili-Ajumogobia was entitled to bail since the alleged offence was bailable.He granted her bail for N10 million with one surety in like sum.
The surety, the judge said, must be a civil servant not below Grade Level 16 in federal or state employment, and must own a landed property within the court’s jurisdiction.Justice Aikawa, who asked the defendant to deposit her international passport with the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar, released her pending when she will perfect her bail conditions, which must be within the next seven working days considering the public holidays.
“An order is hereby made for the issuance of summons compelling Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN) to appear before this court on May 15, 2019 for trial. “The case is hereby adjourned for trial till May 15, 2019,” the judge ruled.
In another development, Justice Doris Okuwobi of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja yesterday refused to admit in evidence a copy of the Department of State Security (DSS) report to the Senate on the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
The trial judge rejected the report while delivering ruling in the N5 billion libel suit filed by Magu against publishers of The Sun Newspapers.Justice Okuwobi said that the report was inadmissible due to fact that it was not a certified true copy of a public document properly issued by a public officer that is admissible under Section 104(1) of the Evidence Act.The judge, therefore, adjourned further hearing to June 6, 2019.