By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Federal Government, on Wednesday, tendered into evidence, bags of cash, both foreign and local currencies that were allegedly recovered from the official residence of Justice Adeniyi Ademola who is facing corruption charges.
The cash totalling about N39.5million, was tendered before trial Justice Jude Okeke of an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, in a Ghana-Must-Go bag.
It was brought to court by an exhibit keeper at the Department of State Service, DSS, Mr. Umar Ahmed, who testified as the 11th prosecution witness.
Justice Ademola who was formerly serving at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court is facing trial alongside his wife, Olabowale, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joe Agi.
The embattled Judge was accused of receiving gratifications from Agi to the tune of N38.5m, including a BMW Saloon 320i car gift.
He allegedly got the bribe money from the senior lawyer through a Guarantee Trust Bank, GTB, account number 201/110160/1/1/0, operated by his wife who was the former Head of Service in Lagos State.
At the resumed hearing on the matter on Wednesday, the witness told the court that “bags of cash” were found at Ademola’s house during a sting operation the DSS conducted in October last year.
Umar who was led in evidence by government lawyer, Mr. Segun Jegede, totalled the various sums of money contained in three separate bags as N54m; $171,779; €4,400; £80 and R1,010 (Indian Rupee).
Other items the witness also tendered before the court were two Avar Magnum Pump Action gun registered under the names of Justice Ademola and another Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ahmed Mohammed.
He also tendered two cartridges – a red head of 25 pieces and a white head of10 pieces along with original copies and photocopies of licenses for the guns in the name of the two Judges.
Aside the N39.5m contained in a ‘Ghana-Must-Go’, the other recovered items, including two iPads and an 8GB flash drive, were tendered before the court in sealed transparent cellophane with different identification numbers.
While identifying the items, th witness said the white bag contained N6m comprising of 12 bundles of N1,000 notes, making N500,000 per bundle.
He said: “My lord the small black bag with a design contains 17 bundles of N1,000 each which equal to N8.5m.
“The ‘Ghana-Must-Go’ (grey in colour) contains 79 bundles making N39.5m.”
He also gave a break down of the dollar denominations as comprising 51 bundles of $100 bills, as well as other lower dollar denominations.
The witness further confirmed to th court that the dollar currencies recovered from Ademola was $121,779 in total, with €4,400; £80 and R1,010 (Indian Rupee).
He said all the recovered item were handed to him item on October 10, 2016, two days after DSS raided Ademola’s home.
“I got to office in the morning of October 10, 2016 and I saw honourable judges, about six or seven of them.
“Then later in the evening Mr. Ike Onuoha, who happened to be the leader of one of the operatives that conducted the search told me about the items recovered during their raid”.
Meanwhile, none of the defence lawyers raised objection to admissibility of the recovered items including the cash.
Justice Okeke marked the cash as exhibits X, Z, BB, CC, DD, EE and FF and handed it over to the Director of Litigation of the FCT High Court, Mr. Madugu Mohammed for safekeeping.
The trial Judge stressed that the money which all the parties agreed should be lodged in a deposit account by Mohammed, must always be made available to the court whenever the need for arose.
Earlier in the proceeding that lasted over eight hours, a banker with Guaranty Trust Bank, Mr. Malik Babatunde, who testified as the 10th prosecution witness, told the court that Justice Ademola transferred N175m a account operated by a firm,Don Parker Properties, on January 24, 2014.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, increased charges the defendants to 18 counts.
Among the new counts was an allegation that Justice Ademola “on or about October 10, 2016, gave “false information intended to mislead a public servant,” an SSS operative, Mr. Babatunde Adepoju, by falsely claiming that one of the guns recovered from him belonged to another judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ahmed Mohammed.
The offence was said to be punishable under section 140 of the Penal Code Act, Laws of the FCT.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the amended charge even as the court adjourned further hearing till Thursday.