The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has urged a Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja to strike out the bribery charge against a former judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court that the anti-graft agency had conceded that the court lacked jurisdiction based on the Appeal Court’s decision in Justice Nganjuwa V. FRN.
Ofili-Ajumogobia, who is being tried for alleged bribery and unlawful enrichment, had challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear her case.She had argued through her lawyer, Chief Robert Clark (SAN), that the court had no power to hear the substantive case.
Where evidence has been adduced by the prosecution and they have closed their case, the consequential order to make as a result of jurisdiction is to discharge the accused whether on merit or simplicita.
“Where the question of jurisdiction is raised before the prosecution called witnesses, the court should discharge simplicita. Once the defendant is made to take a plea, the court must discharge him from the plea.
“However where the issue of jurisdiction has not been raised before the defendant has taken his plea and had allowed the defendant endure the strain of trial, the court should discharge the defendant.
“I urge the court to discharge and acquit the first defendant. According to Section 73(1) of the ACJL what has happened in this case is a withdrawal by agreeing My Lordship has no jurisdiction,” Clarke said.
Ofili-Ajumogobia is standing trial alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Godwin Obla, who was accused of bribing her with N5m.
Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) the defence counsel to Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN), Ofili-Ajumogobia’s co-defendant, urged the court to separate the joint charges of the defendants.
“Salvation in Christendom is individual, I submit that the second defendant (Obla) is not a judicial officer covered by the decision in Ngajuwa’s case.“I’m inviting Your Lordship to separate the first defendant from the second defendant.
“The subject matter is within the jurisdiction of the court and the second defendant is within the jurisdiction of the court. So the issue of jurisdiction does not apply to the second defendant,” Adedipe said.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi adjourned the case until April 16 for ruling.