By Tony Orilade, Ag. Head, Media & Publicity, EFCC
Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Courtsitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday, June 28, 2019, dismissed the preliminary objection filed by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia,challenging her trial before the court.
Ofili-Ajumogobia alongside Godwin Obla, SAN, were re-arraigned on May 15, 2019 on an 18-count charge bordering on breach of trust, false statement and unlawful enrichment.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Hon. Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla, SAN, on or about the 21st day of May, 2014 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired to indirectly conceal the sum of N5, 000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) in the Diamond Bank account of Nigel & Colive Ltd., which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful enrichment.”
Ofili-Ajumogobia, through her counsel, Chief Robert Clarke, SAN, had, on June 25, 2019, filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try his client, claiming that the President’s approval for her dismissal had not been gazetted.
At today’s sitting, Justice Aikawa ruled that Ofili-Ajumogobia is no longer a judicial officer, having been dismissed by the President on the recommendation of the Nigeria Judicial Council, NJC, and that she could be tried for any criminal offence she might be accused of.
Justice Aikawa held that, with the letter presented by the EFCC, the President had already dismissed Ofili-Ajumogobia on November 6 2018.” The President has approved the recommendation of dismissal by the NJC with the letter. “So, it is not a question of whether it was published or not. The intention of the President was clearly expressed in that letter sent on November 6, 2018,” the Judge further held.
The case was adjourned to 24 and 25 October, 2019 for trial.