The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed, before a Lagos Division of the Lagos State High Court, charges of unlawful enrichment to the tune of N3.5 million against James Agbadu-Fishim, a judge of the National Industrial Court.
According to the charge sheet, the EFCC alleged that Mr. Agbadu-Fishim received the funds from seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria, a Lagos-based lawyer, and a law firm between 2013 and 2015.
The money, the EFCC claimed in the charge sheet, was paid into the judge’s First Bank account with number 3008199491.
The judge, according to the EFCC, allegedly received a total of N1.15 million from Felix Fagbohungbe between December 5, 2013, and February 26, 2015.
He also allegedly received a total of N700,000 in multiple tranches from Paul Usoro (SAN) between August 5, 2014, and March 26, 2015.
Other senior advocates who allegedly paid money into the judge’s bank account include Adetola-Kazeem, who gave him N100,000 on February 10, 2015; and Uche Obi, who gave him N250,000 between October 17 and 20, 2013.
The rest include Muiz Banire, who according to the EFCC, gave the judge N500,000 on June 20, 2013; and Adeniyi Akintola, who gave him N300,000 in two tranches of N200,000 and N100,000 on June 3, 2013, and February 26, 2015, respectively.
The EFCC further claimed that the judge received a total of N250,000 from Joseph Nwobike (SAN), in tranches of N150,000 and N100,000 on December 12, 2014, and September 10, 2015, respectively; while a Lagos-based lawyer, Enobong Etteh, was said to have transferred N200,000 to the judge on October 27, 2014.
A law firm, Alliance Law Firm, according to the EFCC, also paid N250,000 into the judge’s account on August 21, 2015.
The anti-graft agency alleged that Justice Fishim received the money “so as to have a significant increase in your assets that you cannot reasonably explain the increase in relation to your lawful income.”
It alleged that the judge acted contrary to Section 82 (a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No.11, 2011.
A date is yet to be fixed for the hearing of the case.
When they were invited by the Commission for questioning, last year, some of the lawyers accused of giving money to the judges maintained it was not a bribe.
For instance, Mr. Banire, announced at the time he would be stepping down as the national legal adviser of the All Progressives Congress pending conclusion of investigation, said the N500,000 he gave the judge was meant for his mother’s funeral.
Also, Mr. Akinola had told The Punch newspaper last year that Mr. Agbadum-Fishim had been his friend for more than 25 years.
“I gave him N100,000 twice when he lost his parents as financial assistance,” the lawyer had said.
“I did not even attend the events. He has also given me money twice: N50,000 (when I lost my mother in 2014) and another N25,000 when my daughter wedded. He attended the two events. It was a kind of exchange of gifts. I knew him when he was in the University of Abuja.”