THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on an 18-count charge bordering on conspiracy and unlawful enrichment.
Ofili-Ajumogobia was a former Justice of the Federal High Court who was dismissed by the National Judicial Council following allegations of misconduct against her.
The EFCC had first arraigned Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on a 30-count charge in November 2016, but the charges were later amended to 31.
However, on Tuesday, April 16, the trial judge, Justice Akeem Oshodi, struck out the 31 amended charges against the defendants, citing a judicial precedent set by the decision of Justice Nganjiwa of the Court of Appeal to the effect that judicial officers ought to be subjected first to disciplinary measures by the NJC after which they could be charged to court.
Following the judgement, the EFCC re-arrested Ofili-Ajumogobia right there in the court premises as she made to leave; the commission explained that her re-arrest was to enable it to file fresh charges against her.
On Thursday, Ofili-Ajumogobia was re-arraigned, this time, before Justice Rilwanu Aikawa, and she pleaded not guilty. Her co-accused, Godwin Obla (SAN) was not in court to take his plea.
Counsel to the defendant made an oral application for bail and after arguments, the trial judge granted the accused person bail in the sum of N10 million and a surety in like sum who must have landed property within the court’s jurisdiction. The surety must also not be below grade level 16 in the federal or state civil service.
Ofili-Ajumogobia was also ordered to deposit her international passport with the deputy chief registrar of the court. The court also ordered that the conditions must be met within 10 days or the bail will be revoked.
The NJC had recommended Ofili-Ajumogobia and James Agbadu-Fishim, a Justice of the National Industrial Court for dismissal following investigations into a petition written against them by the EFCC in October 2018.
Among other things, Ofili-Ajumogobia was found to be the Director/Chief Executive Officer and sole signatory to a private company called “Nigel and Colive Company” which is contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It was also discovered, during investigations, that several personalities, individuals, government officials and business partners lodged funds into various accounts belonging to the Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Furthermore, investigations revealed that there was an ex-parte communication between Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Oblah (SAN) at a period when Oblah’s case was still pending before her.