EFCC Framed me up, Obla, SAN tells Court
Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN), a former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecutor, on Friday accused the commission of owing him.
Obla was accused of bribing a judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Obla, through his defence team led by Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN) said that the (EFCC) has no case against him.
The former EFCC prosecutor, Obla is being accused of paying the sum of N5 million as bribe to Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia in order to pervert the course of justice in a case involving Mr Raymond Omatseye a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the EFCC.
Orbih made the statement of a no-case to-answer during the cross-examination of an EFCC investigator, Mr Lawal Abdullahi, who is the 12th prosecution witness to the corruption trial of Obla and Ofili-Ajumogobia.
During the cross examination, Orbih told Abdullahi, “I put it to you that there is no statement from anyone including the 11 witnesses that the EFCC has brought to testify in court that has said the N5million was for the perversion of justice.
“The second defendant (Obla) has not even been paid by the EFCC for his services rendered.
“It was because the second defendant demanded for his fees that these charges were filed against him by the EFCC,” he said.
On an alleged meeting between the defendants where they allegedly connived to pervert the course of justice, Orbih asked the investigator how he knew that the purpose of the meeting was to pervert justice.
Responding, the EFCC Investigator said “There was a meeting between the defendants in which an account number was exchanged.
“I did not attend the meeting, but it was in their statements, I did not say that they agreed to pervert the course of justice but it was my findings that proved that there was an agreement to pervert the course of justice.”
Orbih told the court that Obla paid N5million into the account of Ofili-Ajumogobia for the purpose of purchasing iron rods for construction noting that the defendants never admitted to the EFCC that they had the intent to pervert justice.
Abdullahi was given a portion of Obla’s statement (Exhibit M) by the defence to read aloud.
In the statement Obla said “Ofili-Ajumogobia is my friend who was a classmate from law school in 1988”.
Also in the statement, Obla had added that during a visit to Lagos, he visited the judge in her chambers and he told her he came to the city to purchase building materials and she offered to help him purchase the iron rods.
The defence denied any impropriety in the Omatseye case, the subject matter of the alleged N5million bribe, Orbih noted that Obla prosecuted the case against the NIMASA Director-General and even secured a conviction for the EFCC.
“The EFCC was very happy when the judgment was delivered and in several national newspapers such as The Nation, the EFCC celebrated the judgment
“In another publication in The Nation, the EFCC said they had gotten 140 convictions and the Omatseye case was the first on the list,” Orbih said.
Orbih tendered as evidence, clippings of publications from May 27 and 28, 2016 from The Nation newspaper.
“The defendants appealed that judgment at the Court of Appeal though the EFCC was unsuccessful in defending the judgment at the higher court.
“The Court of Appeal judgment was given on May 11, 2017 and the EFCC never told the Court of Appeal that they were never going to defend the judgment from the Federal High Court because it was obtained by fraud.
“The second defendant (Obla) made 45 appearances for EFCC for the Omatseye case and there is no other case that he has handled for the EFCC where he has been accused of bribing a judge to pervert the course of justice.
“Was there a petition from Omatseye that the judgment given against him at the Federal High Court was a product of fraud between the two defendants?
“Was it because the EFCC lost the judgment at appeal that they claimed that justice was perverted? “Orbih queried
Responding Abdullahi said, “I do not know anything about this case, I told this court that as at the time this transaction took place, there was a case pending before the first defendant in which the second defendant happens to be the EFCC prosecutor.
“I do not know if there is a petition, the EFCC is a large organization,”
Orbih noted that the alleged N5million bribe was paid on May 21, 2015 and the judgment against Omatseye was given exactly a year later by Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia on May 20, 2016.
He said the judge was never a Director of Nigel and Colive, the company bank account that in which the N5million for iron rods was paid and that construction business one of the objectives of the company
“Are you aware that the sale of building materials is in the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Nigel and Colive?
“The directors of the company as at 2015 were her children, the first defendant was not a director,” he said.
Earlier in the proceeding, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), the lead Defence Counsel to Ofili-Ajumogobia, alleged that the EFCC did not properly investigate the source of funds which the judge allegedly unjustly enriched herself.
“The statement of count five was unlawful enrichment of N18million from Arkleen Oil and Gas, were you satisfied that this money was sourced from an illegality?” he asked the EFCC investigator.
Abdullahi replied, “I investigated the whole case and presented it to our legal department and it was my findings the legal department used in coming up with whether there is corruption or not.
“Most of these lodgements were not lodgements from the employer of the first defendant.”
Reacting to the EFCC investigator’s response, Clarke said “I can now see your thinking.
“So any money paid into a judge’s account if not from the government is an unlawful enrichment,”
They are jointly charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice.
Obla is facing two-counts of offering gratification in the sum of N5 million to Ofili-Ajumogobia, a public official, while serving as a judge.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi thereafter adjourned the case till May 25 for continuation of trial.