By Abdulwahab Abdulah and Jane Echewodo
An Assistant Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Omale Ujah, the fifth prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of a Federal High Court judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia yesterday told a Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja how he was instructed to pay money in tranches to the company account of the embattled Judge.
Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for alleged bribery and unlawful enrichment. Led in evidence by the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, Ujah informed the court that he was instructed by one Musa Tahir, who was the Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs to pay the sum of N12m to the account of Nigel and Colive limited, a company owned by Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia.
“In the course of my duty in 2014,the Deputy Comptroller-General that I was working with, Musa Tahir, came down from the office of the Controller-General of Custom and gave me the account number of Nigel and Colive limited.
“Saying that the CGC said we should liaise with 12 commands and they should pay N1m each to my account and I should transfer the whole sum to Nigel and Colive limited. And that instruction was carried out,” Ujah said.
Ujah further explained that he paid the money in three tranches; N4m, N3m and N5m. He also stated that no services in his knowledge was rendered by the company to Customs before those monies were paid.
Under cross-examination by Ofili-Ajumogobia’s counsel, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), Ujah said in Customs, you obey the last order and he was not trained to ask questions, so he could not ask what the monies were meant for.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is standing trial alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Godwin Obla, who was accused of bribing her with N5m.
Meanwhile, the anti-graft agency called on their sixth witness, Mr. Robinson Emafidon, the Head of Regulatory Liaison in the United Bank of Africa.
Emafidon informed the court that his bank got a letter from EFCC asking them to provide the statement of account of Obla.
“Sometimes in November, 2016,we received a letter from the EFCC asking us to provide them the account opening documents and statement of account regarding the subject customer. “Our response in line with my duties, I got copies of those documents from the archive and printed the account statement which were entries made as transactions of account.
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“I certified them as true copy with a certificate and I forwarded them with a letter to the EFCC,” Emafidon said.
Emafidon confirmed to the court from the statement of account that the sum of N5m was paid to Nigel and Colive limited.
Under cross-examination by Clarke, Emafidon also said he doesn’t know if the transfer was for criminal purpose.
He pointed out under cross-examination by Obla’s lawyer, Mr Ferdinard Orbih, that he was not personally involved in the inflow and outflow of the transaction.
At the resumed proceedings yesterday, Clarke told the presiding judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi, that he wanted to withdraw the application before the court challenging the jurisdiction of the court and Justice Oshodi Consequently strucked out the application.
However, Orbih, told Justice Oshodi that he has two applications before the court.
“My Lord, we have two applications before your Lordship, one seeking leave to travel out for medical attention and the other seeking the charge for separate trial,” Orbih said.
Justice Oshodi adjourned to May 26,2017, for continuation of trial.