LAGOS—The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, re-arraigned a Judge of the Federal High Court, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, and Godwin Obla, SAN, over alleged money laundering charges.
EFCC charged Ofili-Ajumogobia and Obla with 18 counts bordering on conspiracy, unlawful enrichment, retention of crime proceeds and money laundering. The defendants are standing trial before Justice Rilwan Aikawa. Both defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that the defendants were first charged before an Ikeja High Court, which struck out the charge for lack of jurisdiction. Consequently, the prosecution preferred same charges against the defendants, before the Federal High Court. While Ofili-Ajumogobia took her plea to the charge on April 18, the second defendant (Obla) was absent from court.
Ajumogobia pleaded not guilty to the charges, and was granted a bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum. In his decision, Justice Aikawa also granted Obla a bail of N10 million with two sureties in like sum, who must be landed property owners in Lagos on grade level 16 in the Federal Civil Service.
The court adjourned the case until May 23 for trial. The court had, consequently, ordered Obla’s appearance in court to answer to the charges. On Wednesday, Obla showed up in court and was re-arraigned alongside Ajumogobia.
They each denied complicity in the criminal charge marked FHC/L/139C/19. Messrs Robert Clarke, SAN, and Ferdinard Orbih, SAN, announced appearance for the first and second defendants respectively. After their pleas, the Prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to give a trial date, while the defendants be remanded in custody.
But defence counsel, (Orbih) informed the court of a bail application filed on behalf of Obla since April 24, adding that same had been served on prosecution.
In response, Oyedepo 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.
According to prosecution, the charge was only served on Obla in court this morning and so, he could not have filed an application for bail while the charge had not been served on him. Responding, Orbih 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. He urged the court to hear and allow bail.