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Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia cleared of money laundering charges

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Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia cleared of money laundering charges

On Friday, a Federal High Court in Lagos discharged Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, an embattled Federal High Court judge, of money laundering charges brought against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Ambrose Lewis Allagoa upheld Ofili-arguments, Ajumogobia’s including that the National Judicial Council’s (NJC) recommendations for her prosecution had been quashed by Justice Binta M. Nyako of the Federal High Court’s Abuja Division.

Justice Lewis Allagoa cleared Ofili-Ajumogobia of the charges while granting her attorney, Olawale Akoni, an application to quash and dismiss the charges (SAN).

Justice Nyako’s judgement in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/638/2018 between Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili Ajumogobia and the NJC, delivered on November 28, 2019, quashed the NJC’s report and recommendation, and had been reinstated, according to Akoni (SAN).

The application was opposed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which was represented by Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo.

 

He cited a counter-affidavit signed by John Michael Idoko, a member of the Chairman’s Monitoring Unit, who stated that the court had jurisdiction to hear and decide the Defendant’s money laundering allegations.

Idoko claimed that the NJC accused of various acts constituting misconduct under the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers in a petition dated December 28, 2017.

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According to the deponent, the NJC’s investigating committee submitted its report to the Chairman of the Council on September 18, 2018, following the conclusion of a petition hearing, recommending appropriate sanctions be imposed on Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia by the Council.

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He went on to say that on November 7, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari used his constitutional authority under section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to dismiss Ofili-Ajumogobia as a Federal High Court judge.

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According to the deponent, when the President exercised the aforementioned constitutional power, he also sent a letter to the NJC informing it of his decision.

He claimed that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia had never been acquitted of the charges against him in any court or tribunal of competent jurisdiction within or outside Nigeria.

He also stated that the NJC’s findings, as well as the President’s recommendation and letter to the Council, were all on file with the Court.

He went on to say that the EFCC had seen the Defendant/exhibit, Applicant’s and that Justice Nyako had ruled in Suit No, FHC/ABJ/CS/638/2018, “Consequent on the above finding, I hereby set aside all that the Respondent did in respect of this matter premised on the same issues as in the subject matter of the trial before the High Court Of Lagos State,”

“I have looked at the application,” Justice Allagoa said in response to the parties’ arguments. I also looked into the prosecution’s counter-affidavit, which does not contradict the application.

“Because I am convinced that the application has merit, the prayers requested are hereby granted in their entirety.”

The verdict puts an end to the defendant’s two-year battle to avoid judicial condemnation over the allegations, at least for the time being.

On April 18, 2019, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was charged with 18 counts of unlawful enrichment, illegal concealment, corruption, forgery, and giving false information to an EFCC official before Justice Rilwan Aikawa and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Godwin Obla.

The anti-graft agency claimed that the two conspired to conceal a sum of N5,000,000.00 in Nigel Et Colive Ltd’s Diamond Bank account, which sum they reasonably ought to have known was part of proceeds of an illegal act, namely unlawful enrichment.

They both denied the charge and pleaded not guilty.

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