A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Thursday granted bail to Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum. According to the court, the surety who must not be below grade level 16 in the Federal or State Civil Service, must have a landed property in Lagos.
The dismissed judge was rearrested within the Ikeja High Court premises on Tuesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. She had just been freed by the court when operatives of the EFCC swooped on her. The anti-graft agency later explained that it took the action in order to prefer fresh criminal charges against her.
The court has now fixed May 15 for trial to begin on the fresh charges. Apart from giving her bail, the court also ordered the dismissed Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia to deposit her international passport with the Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR) of the court on/or before 6pm today.
She is, however, expected to fulfill the conditions within 10 days or have the bail revoked.
Due to the Easter holidays, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia will be released to her lead counsel, Wale Akoni (SAN) today, pending the fulfillment of the bail conditions or the expiration of 10 days whichever comes first.
For the second defendant, Godwin Obla, who was not present at the court, the
The also also made an Order for the Issuance of Summons compelling the second defendant, Godwin Obla (SAN) who was absent at the sitting, to appear before the court on May 15, 2019, the next adjourned date, for trial.
Ofili-Ajumogobia and Obla, were first arraigned on a 30-count on November 28, 2016, on offences bordering on alleged perversion of the course of justice, graft, unlawful enrichment, providing false information and forgery.
They were later re-arraigned on an amended 31-count bordering on an alleged perversion of the course of justice, unlawful enrichment and forgery.
According to the anti-graft agency, the judge and the lawyer had pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them, thereby setting the stage for the trial.
It revealed that it presented 12 witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the court in the course of the trial.
The EFCC said counsel to Ofili-Ajumogobia who was the first defendant, Robert Clarke, 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.
But counsel for the second defendant, Obla, Ifedayo Adedipe, told the court on January 25, 2019, 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, the EFCC quoted Justice Oshodi in his ruling as saying, “The issue of substantive jurisdiction must be cleared before the issue of no-case submission could be heard.”
The judge had further directed both parties to make their submissions based on the application on the jurisdiction of the court.
In his ruling on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, Justice Oshodi stated that based on the judicial precedent set by the case of 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.
His words: “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.”
The EFCC now argues that in view of the April 16 ruling by Justice Oshodi and having complied with the NJC procedure, it would prefer fresh criminal charges against Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia.