Emerging report indicates that the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Tuesday arrested Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia at the premises of an Ikeja High Court, Lagos after corruption charges against her were struck out.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that about 10 officials of the EFCC surrounded the dismissed federal high court judge as she attempted to leave the courtroom at 10.24 a.m. after the ruling by Justice Hakeem Oshodi.
Upon sighting the officials, the judge made a hasty retreat and went back upstairs into Justice Oshodi’s courtroom to seek the protection of the court from the EFCC officials.
Justice Oshodi, when notified about the development, said there was nothing he could do, as “the file had been closed.”
The embattled former judge and her husband who was with her were observed frantically making various phone calls.
The EFCC officials however allowed Ofili-Ajumogobia’s co-defendant, Mr. Godwin Obla, SAN, to exit the court premises.
Immediately Justice Oshodi’s court rose, Ofili-Ajumogobia was apprehended at 11.47 a.m. by some EFCC officials who whisked her away in a white Hilux van with Abuja number plate BWR637AT.
NAN reports that earlier, Justice Oshodi, in a ruling, had struck out the 31 counts filed by the EFCC against Ofili-Ajumogobia and Obla on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit.
The judge ruled that, based on the judicial precedent set by the case of Justice Nganjiwa Vs FRN, the EFCC had “jumped the gun” in filing the first amended charge.
Justice Oshodi noted that the anti-graft commission had not followed the procedures set by the National Judicial Council in disciplining erring judicial officers.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Godwin Obla, are being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for alleged bribery and unlawful enrichment.
The judge and the SAN were arraigned on 30 counts on November 28, 2016.
The EFCC, in the charges, alleged that Obla, while appearing in a suit number FHC/L/C/482c/2010 before Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, offered a gratification of N5m to the judge to allegedly induce the judge to refrain from acting in the exercise of her official duties as a public official.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was also accused of receiving a total of $793,800 in several tranches from different sources between 2012 and 2015 “so as to have a significant increase in your assets that you cannot reasonably explain the increase in relation to your lawful income.”
The EFCC claimed that the judge and the SAN acted contrary to sections 64 (1) and 97 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No. 11, 2011.
But they both pleaded not guilty to the offences after which Justice Oshodi granted them bail on self recognisance.