As the trial of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of a Federal High Court for alleged corruption continues in Lagos on Friday, a witness, Uchenna Okaranwolu, told an Ikeja High Court that the Delta State Government paid N24 million into the bank account of the judge.
Okaranwolu, an insurance salesman, was a former staff of Access Bank and the account officer of Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Led in evidence by Rotimi Oyedepo, the prosecutor for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Okaranwolu, also revealed the judge’s bank transaction details.
Okaranwolu said: “On August 5, 2011 an Oceanic bank cheque from the Delta State Government for N15 million was paid into Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia’s account.
“On March 23, 2010, I made a cash deposit of N1.5 million into her account.
“On July 20, 2010, I deposited an Afribank cheque of N7 million into her account.
“On August 29, 2011, another Zenith Bank cheque of N9 million from the Government House was paid into her account.”
Ofili-Ajumogobia is being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly enriching herself while working as a judge of the Federal High Court, while a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla, is also being tried for corruption.
Both are jointly charged with perverting the course of justice by the anti-graft agency.
Obla, a former EFCC prosecutor, is facing an additional two-count charge of offering gratification 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.
Explaining his relationship with the judge, Okaranwolu said: “I know the first defendant in this case.
“She is the customer of the bank and I was her account officer from 2008 to 2009 and 2011 and 2012.”
He said he paid in money in US dollars on behalf of the judge into dollar credit card account as well as other lodgments in naira into her naira account.
Okaranwolu disclosed: “I sometimes run some errands for Justice Ajumogobia.
“She wrote cheques in my name to withdraw money from her account for her when she could not stand in the banking hall because of the long queues.”
Okaranwolu, while being guided by Oyedepo, read aloud details of Ofili-Ajumogobia’s credit card account with the bank, where deposits ranging from $500 to $49,000, amounting to over $650,000 were paid into the account over a six-year period.
He said: “On May 7, 2008, $20,000 was paid into the account by one Ken Mozia.
“On June 20, 2008, $49,000 was paid into the account by one Donald Ofili.
“On August 25, 2008, $500 was paid into the account by the judge.”
Okaranwolu also told the court that he received the funds from the judge at either her home or the banking hall of the branch of Access Bank where he worked.
He said: “Our meeting point was usually the banking hall or at one of her homes, which included an apartment in Military Street, Onikan, a home in an estate in Lekki or the Judges Quarters on Glover Road, Ikoyi.”
Earlier during the trial, a bureau de change operator, Said Abba, had told the court how he helped the judge and her Diamond Bank Account officer, Ademola Oshodi.
Abba said: “Oshodi called me some time ago to pay cash and transfer money into Ajumogobia’s account, in which I get the dollar equivalent.
“If I pay dollars to him, I get cash in naira or naira is transferred into my account.”
However, on cross-examination by Olawole Akoni (SAN), Ofili-Ajumogobia’s counsel, he said he had never met the judge.
Abba said: “I don’t know Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
“Oshodi never told me where he got the money from and whenever I met Demola, I dealt with him in the bank.”
Oshodi, a Diamond Bank branch manager, was the first prosecution witness for the EFCC.
He had revealed in his testimony how he received cash in local and foreign currencies from Ofili-Ajumogobia’s home and the judge’s chambers at the Federal High Court to deposit in her account with the aid of Abba.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi adjourned the case to April 28 for continuation of trial.