A witness in the ongoing trial of a Federal High Court judge, Adeniyi Ademola, has told the court that operatives of the State Security Service did not investigate an alleged gift of N500, 000 given to Mr. Ademola by President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyer.
Mr. Ademola is facing trial for alleged abuse of office alongside.
His wife, Olubowale, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joe Agi, are also being tried for alleged corruption.
An operative of the SSS, Babatunde Adepoju, who led investigations into the allegations, confirmed on Tuesday that he had been told, during interrogation of Mr. Agi, that a gift of N500, 000 was sent through Mr. Buhari’s lawyer, Kola Awodehin, to Mr. Ademola.
The money, reportedly sent as a gift for Mr. Ademola’s daughter’s wedding, was delivered to the judge by Kola Awodehin, a lawyer who represented the president in a case of alleged forgery of secondary school certificate before the 2015 elections.
The following exchanges ensued in court between Mr. Agi’s lawyer, Jeph Njikonye, and Mr. Adepoju:
Question: During the interview with the third defendant, he told you that the wedding gift passed by Ken Hubert and Bassey Bassey was not the only gift received by the first defendant (Justice Ademola), and that the president’s lawyer also passed a gift of N500,000 then for the wedding of the judge’s daughter.
[At this point, a copy of the court document involving the charge against Mr. Buhari on allegations of certificate forgery; (between Chukwunwike Vs President Buhari), was shown to the witness who identified the name of the lawyer (Mr. Awodehin), as the third person representing the president in the suit.]
Question: Was Kola Awodeyin, SAN, the one who passed off the gift of N500,000?
As a follow up to the response by Mr. Adepoju, Mr. Agi’s lawyer asked whether the N500,000 given at a time when Mr. Buhari had a pending case before Mr. Ademola, amounted to a bribe, so that the judge would rule in his favour.
Mr. Adepoju answered in the negative, stressing that “such would amount to a speculation in my opinion”.
Mr. Adepoju also added that his office did not investigate further to determine the authenticity or otherwise of the claim by Mr. Agi.
At least 10 suits challenging the eligibility of Mr. Buhari to contest the 2015 presidential election came before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
The suits were later consolidated into two, since they all sought similar actions from the court of law.
In one of the suits, Chukwunweike Okafor sought an order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission to remove or delete Mr. Buhari’s name and that of the All Progressives Congress from the list of persons and political parties running for the office of president.
Mr. Okafor asked the court to hold that the information supplied by the APC flag-bearer in Form C.F 001 that his West African School Certificate was with the Nigerian Army was false and should be disqualified from the race.
In another suit, Max Ozoaka asked the court to disqualify Mr. Buhari on the ground that the INEC Form Cf 001 the APC candidate submitted to INEC was incomplete.
The suits were, however, struck out days before the general election in April 2015.
Messrs. Hubert and Bassey had been identified on Monday as donating $150,000 to Justice Ademola for his daughter’s wedding. The money was later converted into N37 million.
Mr. Adepoju, who stated this in court, could however not trace the donors of the money to any case involving Mr. Ademola, or any of the defendants.
On Tuesday the prosecution closed its case against the judge, after presenting all its witnesses.
Lawyer to Mr. Ademola, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, thereafter told the court that his client would like to make a no-case-submission.
The trial judge, Jude Okeke, adjourned the matter till March 15 for hearing of the application.