Former judge, Ofili-Ajumogobia granted N10m bail

A former Judge of the Federal High Court, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, was on Thursday re-arraigned before a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, over alleged corruption.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the embattled former judge was initially arraigned on Nov. 28, 2016, before an Ikeja High Court alongside Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a former prosecutor of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC had arraigned the duo on a 30-count charge bordering on corruption before an Ikeja High Court.

During their trial, the 30-count charge was later amended by the EFCC to 31 counts on Feb. 23, 2018.

On Tuesday (April 16), Justice Hakeem Oshodi struck out the charge against Ofili-Ajumogobia and Obla on the grounds that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

The former judge was, however, re-arrested by operatives of the anti-graft commission when she was leaving the Ikeja High Court premises after the charge was struck out.

During re-arraignment at the Federal High Court on Thursday before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, Ofili-Ajumogobia was present but Obla, her co-defendant, was absent.

She pleaded not guilty to an 18-count charge bordering on unlawful enrichment, taking property unlawfully, corruption, forgery and giving false information, NAN reports.

In a ruling granting bail to the defendant, Aikawa said: “I take judicial notice of the Easter holiday and grant bail in the sum of N10 million with one surety in like sum who must have landed property In Lagos.

”The surety must not be below Grade Level 16 in the federal or state civil service.

“The defendant must deposit her international passport with the deputy chief registrar of the court at or before 6.00p.m. today.

“The defendant shall endeavor to fulfill the conditions within 10-days or the bail will be revoked.

“She shall be released to her lead counsel, Wale Akoni (SAN), pending the fulfillment of the other conditions or the expiration of 10 days, whichever comes first.”

Aikawa also issued summons to compel Obla to appear before the court.

“For the second defendant, an order is hereby made for issuance of summons compelling Godwin Obla to appear before the court on the May 15, for the purpose of trial.”

Earlier, lead EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court of a pending charge against the defendants, and called the attention of the judge to Obla’s absence.

He told the court that every attempt made to inform Obla of the pending charge proved abortive.

Oyedepo, however, urged the court to take the plea of the former judge and give an order to compel Obla to appear before the court on the next adjourned date.

Mr Wale Akoni (SAN), Ofili-Ajumogobia’s counsel, had made an oral application for her bail.

He asked the court to take judicial notice of the fact that she was a judicial officer, and admit her to bail on self-recognizance.

Objecting to Akoni’s request for bail, Oyedepo told the court to take further judicial notice that there was a decision of the National Judicial Council (NJC) which recommended her dismissal.

He said that considering the nature of the case, it would not be in the interest of justice for her to be granted bail on self recognisance.

He therefore, urged the court to deny her bail or attach conditions which would compel her to be available for trial.

Aikawa adjourned the case until May 15 for trial.