Musa Omale, a witness in the ongoing trial of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia for corruption, on Friday said the Nigeria Customs Service paid N12 million into a bank account owned by the judge.
Omale, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs, made the assertion while giving testimony in the ongoing trial of the judge of the Federal High Court before an Ikeja, Lagos State High Court.
Led in evidence by Rotimi Oyedepo, the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the witness said the NCS paid the amount into the account of a company, Nigel and Colive Limited.
Omale, who is the fifth witness for the anti-graft agency, said the account was run by the judge.
He said the transaction occurred on July 11, 2014 under the instructions of the then Comptroller General of the NCS, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko.
Musa said: “In the course of my duty in 2014, the Deputy Comptroller General who I was directly working with, Musa Tahir, came down from the office of Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko.
“He gave me the account number of Nigel and Colive Ltd, telling me that the CGC said that we should liaise with the 12 commands of the customs service and that each command should pay N1 million each into my bank account.
“Tahir told me that when I receive the money, I should transfer the whole sum into the account of Nigel and Colive.
“The instructions were carried out as directed and on July 11, 2014, the N12 million was paid in three trenches of N3 million, N4 million and N5 million into the account of Nigel and Colive Limited.
“No services were rendered to our command to warrant the payments of the funds into the account.”
The witness, in his evidence, said when he was invited by the EFCC, he was initially tempted to give a false statement to the anti-graft agency.
He said: “I was invited to the EFCC office, I was told to explain the reason behind the transaction and I remember volunteering to give my statements.
“I was initially trying to protect myself. stating that I did not know anything about the money, but at a point, something was telling me ‘when did you become a liar, do you not know your upbringing’?
“At that point, I retracted my statement and I revealed all that transpired during the course of that transaction.”
However, while being cross-examined by the lead defence counsel to Ofili-Ajumogobia, Robert Clarke (SAN), Musa said he did not know the purpose of the N12 million he transferred.
Clarke said: “In the face of the statement of account that you’re holding, does it show any reason for transferring the money?
“You work with the NCS which is a para-military organisation. I believe you are trained to obey to the last instructions without asking questions.
“The spirit that told you to tell the truth at the EFCC was it an acquired spirit or when you were receiving instructions and transferring the money did the spirit tells you anything?”
Responding to Clarke’s questions, Musa said: “The statement of account in my hands does not reveal any reason for the transaction.
“I was instructed by my bosses to do the transaction and I’m not trained to ask questions, it was my conscience that told me to tell the truth.
“I was not harassed, coerced or intimidated by the EFCC to give my statements.”
On March 17, a fourth prosecution witness, Uchenna Okaranwolu, a former banker, had revealed to the court that the Delta State Government paid N15 million into the judge’s Access Bank account.
Ofili-Ajumogobia is standing trial alongside Godwin Obla, SAN, a former prosecutor of the EFCC.
The duo are jointly charged on two-counts of perverting the course of justice, while Obla is facing an additional two counts of offering gratification in the sum of N5 million to Ofili-Ajumogobia, a public official, while serving as a judge.
Ofili-Ajumogobia faces a 26-count charge bordering on unlawful enrichment, taking property by a public officer, corruption by a public officer, forgery and giving false information to an official of the EFCC.
Both denied all the charges.
Another prosecution witness, Robertson Emafidon, revealed during proceedings details of the N5 million, which was transferred from Obla’s United Bank of Africa account into the judge’s account.
Emafidon, the Head of Regulatory Liaison at the Head Office of the UBA, said: “Sometime in November 2016, we received a letter from the EFCC asking us to avail them of the account opening documents and statement of account regarding the subject customer.
“I made copies of the documents, certified them as true copied, signed and forwarded them as a letter back to the EFCC.
“There was a debit of N5million on May 21, 2015 from the account of Obla and Co into the bank account of Nigel and Colive Limited.
“On May 18, 2015 there was a credit of N16.5 million from the account of D.S.J Integrated Services into the bank account of Obla and Co.”
However, while being cross-examined by Clarke and Chief Ferdinard Orbih (SAN), defence counsel to Obla, Emafidon denied any knowledge of the purpose of the bank transfers.
Emafidon said: “I don’t know the purpose of the transfers, I was not personally involved in any of these transactions and I was not in any of the branches where the transactions occurred.”
After the witnesses had given their evidence, Oyedepo, the EFCC counsel, made an oral application to the court seeking for some witness summons to compel additional witnesses to testify for the EFCC in the trial.
Oyedepo said: “My lord, I want to apply for witness summons to be issued on Charles Musa, a proposed 11th witness on the proof of evidence, Frank Ezenwe and Danladi Haliyu, the fifth and sixth witnesses, in the additional list of witnesses.
“We will also request for a subpoena to the Registrar of Titles of the Bureau of Lands, Lagos, to produce a deed of assignment.”
Justice Hakeem Oshodi adjourned the case until May 26 for continuation of trial.