Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has petitioned the National Judicial Council over the alleged misconduct of three judges.
The judges are: Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa and Justice Agbadu Fishim.
It was learnt that in a letter dated January 5, 2018, the EFCC asked the NJC to take disciplinary action against the three judges who are all facing trial in several courts.
The petition, it was learnt, had become necessary due to a judgment by the Court of Appeal last December stating that the EFCC does not have powers to investigate or prosecute serving judicial officers, except where such officers have been dismissed by the NJC.
This formed part of the court’s verdict while striking out 14 fraud charges to the tune of $260,000 slammed on Justice Nganjiwa of the Bayelsa Division of the Federal High Court by the EFCC.
It was learnt that although the anti-graft agency had challenged Justice Nganjiwa’s suit at the Supreme Court, it decided to also write to the NJC so that fraud cases against other judges would not be scuttled.
For instance, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is facing 26 charges before a Lagos State High Court bordering on unlawful enrichment, corruption, forgery and giving false information to an official of the EFCC.
The EFCC similarly accused Justice Fishim of receiving an aggregate of N3.5m from seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria, one other Lagos-based lawyer and one law firm between 2013 and 2015. The money, the EFCC claimed, was allegedly paid into the judge’s First Bank account with number 3008199491.
According to the EFCC, Justice Fishim allegedly received a total of N1.15m from Chief Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN) between December 5, 2013 and February 26, 2015.
The embattled judge allegedly received a total of N700,000 in multiple tranches from Paul Usoro (SAN) between August 5, 2014 and March 26, 2015. Other SANs, from whom the judge allegedly received money, were Chief Gani Adetola-Kazeem, who gave him N100,000 on February 10, 2015; and Mr. Uche Obi, who gave him N250,000 between October 17 and 20, 2013.
Others are: Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), who according to the EFCC, gave the judge N500,000 on June 20, 2013; and Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), who gave him a total of N300,000 in two tranches of N200,000 and N100,000 on June 3, 2013 and February 26, 2015 respectively.
Asked if the NJC had received the EFCC’s letter, the council’s spokesperson, Mr. Soji Oye, said he would not know as he only resumed from leave on Monday.