The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday re-arraigned a Judge of the Federal High Court, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla, over alleged money laundering charges.
Ofili-Ajumogobia and Obla were re-arraigned on 18 counts of conspiracy, unlawful enrichment, retention of crime proceeds and money laundering before Justice Rilwan Aikawa.
The defendants, who are standing trial before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, have pleaded not guilty to all counts of the charge.
The court granted Justice Aikawa granted Obla a N10million bail, among other conditions, following an application by his counsel, Chief Ferdinand Orbih, SAN.
Ofili-Ajumogobia is already on bail on similar terms having taken her plea to the same charge on April 18, 2019.
The defendants were first charged before an Ikeja Division of the High Court, which struck out the charge on jurisdictional grounds.
The former judge was, however, re-arrested by operatives of the anti-graft commission as she made to leave the Ikeja High Court premises.
The prosecution preferred the same charges against the defendants on April 18 before Justice Aikawa.
While Ofili-Ajumogobia took her plea, second defendant (Obla) was absent.
On Wednesday, Obla arrived in court and was re-arraigned alongside Ajumogobia. They both pleaded “Not guilty” to a charge marked FHC/L/139C/19.
Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to give a trial date, while the defendants be remanded in custody.
Orbih however informed the court of Obla’s bail application filed on April 24, adding that same had been served on prosecution.
Oyedepo had in his response, described the bail application as “strange” on the grounds that the charge had not even been served on the defendant before his bail application was filed.
But Orbih opposed him. He informed the court that he got wind of the proceedings on the pages of newspapers, following which he approached the court to get a copy of the charge even before receiving same from prosecution.
He told the court that the defendant was desirous of attending court and defending the allegations against him, rather than evading.
Orbih added: “My Lord, the defence is a senior member of the Bar, he was called to Bar in 1984, he became Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2013. I urge my Lord to grant bail on liberal terms. In a bench ruling, Justice Aikawa also granted Obla a bail of N10 million with two sureties in the like sum, who must be landed property owners in Lagos.
The judge added: “The surety must not be below Grade Level 16 in the federal or state civil service. The defendant must deposit his international passport with the deputy chief registrar of the court. The defendant shall endeavour to fulfill the conditions within 10-days or the bail will be revoked. The defendant shall be released to his lead counsel, chief Ferdinand Orbih SAN, pending the expiration of 10 days.”
Justice Aikawa adjourned till May 23, for argument on the preliminary objection.
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