SAN To Know Fate As Court Fixes April 30 To Deliver Judgment On Alleged Offering Of Money To Judges
Justice Raliat Adebiyi of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has fixed April 30 to deliver judgement on the charge against a senior advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Nwobike.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had filed a charge bothering on alleged offering of gratification, perversion of justice against the Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
The SAN was charged in March 9, 2019 with five count charge.The EFCC claimed that Nwobike offered N750,000 gratification to Justice Mohammed Yunusa and N300,000 to Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, both of the Federal High Court.
It claimed that the SAN acted contrary to Section 97 (3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No. 11, 2011.
At the resume of the proceedings on Thursday, Mr. O.Akoni SAN, Counsel to Dr. Nwobike in a final written address told the court to discharge and acquit his client holding that the prosecution has not produced cogent and reliable evidence to convict the defendant.
According to Akoni , “The prosecution said Nwobike SAN gave money to some judges and these indicted judges were interviewed but they were never brought as witness and in the amendment charge as of today, they have removed their names from the charge after they have destroyed their image and because they cannot prove it.
“The court registrar that was mentioned gave the reason why money was given to her and to which purpose it was given to her while giving evidence before the court. While Jide who was also indicted was never brought to court as a witness.
“I submit that these charges are merely suspicion and speculation. We also submit that the attitude of the prosecution who have continued to investigate the defendant even during the trial is just to nail him at all cost.
“I urges your lordship to discharge Nd acquit the defendant,” Akoni said.
In his response, Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo urges the court to convict the defendant as charged.
Oyedepo in his address said: “It appeared to us that the defence have misunderstood our case.
“The defendant was charged with three categories of offences which include: Offering of gratification, attempting to pervert justice and giving false information to the officers.
The burden of how to prove our case rest on the prosecution.
“Justice Mohammed Yinusa was the instrument used by the defendant to achieve his interest because he did not pay the money to his mother (Justice Yinusa) nor a doctor. The claim that the money was for the judges’ treatment was just an after thought.
“By the rank of the defendant, he knows that counsel to parties are not to take communicate with the judge in which they have a pending matter but Nwobike admitted to having a meeting with the judge and account numbers were exchanged without the presence of the other parties.
“In the view of the fact that justice Yinusa has favored the defendant in his some of his cases pending before him shows the reason why the meney were paid.”
Oyedepo also stated that calling all the witnesses is not as necessary as calling the material witnesses.
“Justice Yinusa and Justice Fishim are both standing trial in court and their evidences in this charge are of no value.
“We urge my lord to convict the defendant as charged.” Oyedepo said.
Earlier, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Nwobike was ‘re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, with eighteen (18) counts, bordering on alleged offering of gratification to justice Mohammed Yinusa.
The EFCC claimed that Nwobike offered N750,000 gratification to Justice Mohammed Yunusa a Federal High Court.
The anti-graft agency claimed that Nwobike offered the money to the judge to pervert the course of justice.
Part of the charge read that, Dr Nwobike was alleged of attempted to pervert the course of justice sending text message in the following words ‘ Combase Energy Ltd & Anor V UBA Plc & Ors FHC/L/CS/1492/ 2014 Saidu Thanks. Sorry Kurya. He said he will start sitting next week thanks” to Mr Jide, assistant Chief Registrar of the Federal Highj Court, Lagos Judicial Division in a bid to influence the assignment of the suit to Hon. Justice Kurya.”
His offence contrary to section 64 (1) and 97(3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No 11, 2011.
The SAN however denied all the charges against him.
The matter was subsequently adjourned till April 30 for Judgement.