There seems to be fresh apprehension in the judiciary following the revelation that some judges allegedly received bribe from a senior lawyer.
Daniel Danladi, a detective with the special task force of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday, March 16, 2017 revealed to the Ikeja High Court that some judges received bribe from Dr Joseph Nwobike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nwobike is being tried by the anti-graft agency before Justice Raliatu Adebiyi for allegedly bribing some public officers and for perverting the course of justice.
When the case came up on Thursday, Danladi, who was led in evidence by the EFCC lead counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, displayed a document entitled: ‘Extraction Report’ while naming four judges who allegedly received bribe from the lawyer.
The judges include: Mohammed Yinusa, HA Ngajiwa and Justice Musa Kurya, all of the Federal High Court, Lagos. The fourth judge was given as James Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court, Lagos.
The report, according to Danladi has details of 14,317 text messages from Nwobike’s Samsung Galaxy Note 4 mobile phone, seized from him by the EFCC during investigations.
He revealed that some of the messages contained details of bank transactions as well as messages allegedly sent by Nwobike to the judicial officers and judges.
“The result of the extraction report clearly showed that the defendant was conveying money to judges of the various courts. He also wielded influence over which judge should hear his cases.
“This is contrary to the statement that the defendant gave to the EFCC that the only judicial officer he gave financial assistance to was Hon. Justice Yinusa,” Danladi said while giving details of judicial officers who Nwobike was allegedly in contact with.
“The defendant was in regular phone contact with one Mr Jide and Mr Baruwa of the Federal High Court and one Mrs Helen Ogunleye, who is the registrar to Justice Musa Kurya.
“On November 5, 2015, the defendant sent a text message to Mr Jide stating he wanted his matter which was Mrs Timi Akpobolokemi and others Vs the EFCC with suit number FHC/L/CS/1665/2015 to go before Hon. Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
“He acknowledged receipt of the text message and some days later the matter was assigned to Ofili-Ajumogobia.
“In FRN Vs Dr Oluwafemi Thomas and others, he suggested that that matter should go to Hon. Justice Saidu with Mr Jide confirming receipt of the text.
“In a matter in which EFCC was a party, the defendant sent a text to Mr Baruwa of the Federal High Court stating that he wanted the matter to be assigned to Justice Abang’s court.
“Investigations revealed that the matter was assigned to Justice Abang as agreed between them,” Danladi said.
The EFCC witness further added: “In text message exchanges with Mr Jide the defendant influenced a number of cases including; Simon Adomene V the EFCC with suit number FHC/L/CS/1471/2015 anf Dr Oluwafemi Thomas V The EFCC with suit number FHC/L/CS/1445/2015.
“He suggested that these cases as well as some others should be assigned to Justice Yinusa, our investigations revealed that they were assigned to the judge.
“On March 20, 2015, the defendant paid N750,000 into the UBA account of Hon. Justice Yinusa and a few days later a court order was granted by the judge in the defendant’s favour.
“Our investigations revealed that the defendant paid money into the First Bank Account of Hon. Justice James Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court.
“We wrote to First Bank where the judge operates three different bank account and they confirmed such payments.
“On December 29, 2015, payment of N100,000 was made into the Justice Agbadu -Fishim’s First Bank account with number 2006900216.
“On Dec. 2, 2015, N150,000 and N100,000 was paid into the judge’s account with number 3008199491 and on Sep. 10, 2015, N100,000 was paid into that account by the defendant.
“Our investigations revealed that the defendant gave Mrs Helen Ogunleye, the registrar to Justice Musa Kurya N250,000 as well as undisclosed sums to her boss the judge.
“Investigations revealed that money was also paid to Justice H.A Ngajiwa by the defendant through a company account owned by the judge,” he added.
Reading one of the text messages from the defendant’s phone, Danladi said: “The text message sent on March 25, 2014 revealed the registrar asking for financial assistance from the SAN for her brother who wanted to study medicine in Russia.
“A text message sent on Dec. 15, 2014 the SAN told the registrar that a sum of N250,000 was for her while some undisclosed money in an envelope was meant for her boss Justice Musa Kurya.
“We invited Justice James Agbadu-Fishim to our office sometime in late 2016, he made statements confirming that the defendant paid money into his account.”
He added that Mr Jide was also invited by the commission and that the latter admitted exchanging text messages with the SAN.
Counsel to Nwobike, Mr O Akanni (SAN), had earlier opposed Danladi’s evidence saying: “This evidence does not have any relevance to this case, the test of admissibility is relevance and there is not a single charge before this court that relates to payment of money to judges.
“The charged relate to payment of money to specific inpiduals and Section 1 of the Evidence Act is very clear.”
Oyedepo responded to Akani saying: “The payment of monies to judges is the basis of our case in counts one to eight while counts nine and ten border on the attempt to pervert the course of justice.”