The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has yet uncovered another bribery scandal linked to embattled judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
The Punch newspaper reports that sources in the EFCC said it has uncovered an alleged N5 million bribe paid to the judge by an unnamed Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“We have evidence that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia collected N5m from a senior advocate. We have invited him (the SAN) and he is supposed to appear this week,” an EFCC detective told the newspaper.
Earlier in the year, the National Judicial Council barred her from getting any promotion for the remainder of her career.
At least 10 SANs and five other lawyers are being investigated for bribing judges. The EFCC source claimed the senior advocates paid money into the bank accounts of the judges while some others sent cash to the judges via proxies.
Some of the senior advocates who had been quizzed by the EFCC include the National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress, Dr. Muiz Banire, Norrison Quakers, Rickey Tarfa, Chief Felix Fagbohun, Paul Usoro, Joseph Nwobike and Valentine Obi.
Four lawyers, who are not senior advocates, were also quizzed. They are Lai Arikewuyo, Titus Orimijupa, Bayo Onitubora and Iniebong Etek.
Also, three SANs – Joe Gadzama, who contested the Presidency of the Nigerian Bar Association; Chief Adeniyi Akintola and Godwin Obla – had also been invited by the commission as well as another lawyer, Mr. Kola Olateru.
“We quizzed them because they had at one time or the other deposited money into the bank accounts of judges. Many of them claimed the money was not a bribe but the troubling element there is that some of them had cases before the judges.
“For instance, Justice Terseer Fishim of the Industrial Court was handling the cases of some of the SANs in question and yet he received N550, 000 and N200,000 from two SANs,” an EFCC source said.
Apart from Fishim and Ofili-Ajumogobia, other judges interrogated by the EFCC included Uwani Abba-Aji of the Court of Appeal; Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court; Nganjiwa Hyledzira of the Federal High Court; and Musa Kurya of the Federal High Court.
However, some of the lawyers, who were quizzed, denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the money they gave to the judges was not a bribe but financial assistance.