Justice Lewis Allagoa of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday struck out money laundering charges brought against a former judge of the court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Allagoa discharged Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia of the allegations while ruling on an application challenging the competency of an amended 15 count charge dated March 2, 2021, on the ground that her dismissal from the Bench by the National Judicial Council (NJC) had been quashed by the court.
In the charge, the EFCC alleged that at various times, she indirectly concealed different sums of money, in the Diamond Bank account of Nigel and Colive Ltd, a company alleged to be operated by her.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was also alleged to have on different dates in 2014, retained sums of monies like N5million, 150,000 dollars, 20,000 dollars, 30,000 dollars, 50,000 dollars, and 55,000 dollars in the Diamond bank account of Nigel and Colive.
The EFCC also accused Ajumogobia of indirectly concealing the sum of N12 million in the same account, and making a false statement to the EFCC that the money was payment for the sale of landed property.
The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15 (2) (a) and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.
The retired judge, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
While arguing the application to quash the charge, the defence lawyer, Olawale Akoni (SAN) submitted that the application is sequel to an order of Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, which he claimed had quashed all the recommendations made by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Akoni maintained that by virtue of judgment delivered on November 28, 2019, in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/638/2018, between Hon, Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili Ajumogobia and National Judicial Council the judge had quashed NJC’s report and recommendation. And that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia has been reinstated.
Responding to the application, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court that his commission had responded to the application through a counter-affidavit.
Ruling on the application, Justice Allagoa held that, “I have looked at the application. I have also looked into the counter-affidavit of the prosecution, it did not indeed contradict the application.
“I am satisfied that the application has merit, the prayers sought for are hereby granted as prayed”.