SHOCKING details of how senior Nigerian lawyer allegedly bribed court clerks, selected ‘compliant’ judges

EFCC Operatives
EFCC Operatives

The prosecuting team of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday in Lagos confronted Joseph Nwobike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, with various text messages he allegedly sent to court officials to unduly influence cases he was handling.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Mr. Nwobike is being tried by the EFCC on an 11-count charge bordering on perverting the course of justice and offering gratification to public officials at an Ikeja High Court.

The anti-graft agency alleged that Mr. Nwobike offered gratifications to some judges of the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court to influence them to act contrary to their official capacities.

The EFCC also claimed that Mr. Nwobike engaged in sending illegal text messages with four registrars of the Federal High Court in a bid to unduly influence his cases being tried by the judges.

Mr. Nwobike, however, denied all the charges.

On July 3, while being led in evidence by his defence counsel, Olawale Akoni, Mr. Nwobike had told the court that the money he allegedly gave to the judges was not gratification but “assistance”.

He insisted that the judges were old friends whom he had been acquainted with while in the university long before they were assigned as judges.

A compact disc (Exhibit P21) allegedly containing text messages from the SAN’s seized mobile phone (Exhibit P18) was projected on a screen during the cross-examination of Nwobike.

Rotimi Oyedepo, the lead prosecution counsel of the EFCC during the proceedings on Tuesday, accused Mr. Nwobike of sending text messages to Mr. Baruwa, a clerk of the Federal High Court, Lagos.

He claimed that Mr. Nwobike was aware that Mr. Baruwa worked with one Mr. Jide, a Deputy Registrar of the court.

Responding, Mr. Nwobike said: “I know Mr. Baruwa, he is a clerk of the Federal High Court, I do not know he works with Mr Jide, he told me that his office is directly opposite Mr Jide’s office.

“I have had cause to send messages to Baruwa in the course of my duties just like any other legal practitioner.”

Disputing Mr. Nwobike’s claims, Mr. Oyedepo said that Mr. Nwobike was aware that the clerk shared office with the Deputy Registrar.

“Would you be surprised if I tell you that Baruwa works directly with Mr Jide in the Federal High Court and that his desk is opposite Mr Jide’s desk.

“Baruwa informed you in a text that Mr Jide is back in the office,” he said.

Mr. Nwobike again denied reading the text message from Mr. Baruwa. Mr. Oyedepo, however, confronted him with the evidence on the screen in the courtroom that he actually read the text message.

Mr. Oyedepo showed him text messages in which details of lawsuits were allegedly sent by Nwobike to Baruwa in a bid to assign the cases to some specific judges.

“On page 3984 of exhibit P21, there was a text from you to Mr. Jide in which you mentioned a case AMCON V Bizel Finance and Investment Ltd.

“At 12.59 p.m. on September 4, 2015, you forwarded the suit details of First Bank V O.P.I International Ltd, you mentioned that the suits should be assigned to Justice Buba.

“As at September 4, 2015 when you sent that text message, the matter was not yet assigned to any judge and on Nov. 27, 2015, at 10.46 am, you sent a text message to Mr Jide giving details of Godwin Ewekolu Vs Inspector General of Police.

“When the text was forwarded, Justice Kurya was a judge of the Federal High Court and you impressed it on Jide that it was very urgent that the case be assigned to him.

“In the suit between Skye Bank Plc and Brokeyard Marine Oil and Gas Services Ltd, you forwarded the suit details to Mr. Jide as shown on the screen.

“As at the time you forwarded the suit details to Mr. Jide, Brokeyard Marine Oil and Gas Services Ltd were under investigation by the EFCC.

“The Kurya J you mentioned in that text message is Hon. Justice Kurya of the Federal High Court,” he said.

Denying Mr. Oyedepo’s accusations, Mr. Nwobike said “The text messages I sent were just confirmation text messages.

“On whether I knew that Brokeyard Marine Oil and Gas Services were under investigation by the EFCC, I don’t know because I don’t work for the EFCC.”

Mr. Oyedepo accused Mr. Nwobike of obstructing the prosecution of Femi Thomas, his client, who was allegedly caught at the Muritala Muhammed International Airport with 200 million dollars.

“On November 11, 2015, you sent a message to Mr. Jide of the Federal High Court about a criminal charge filed against your client Dr Femi Thomas asking that it should be assigned to Justice Seidu.

“This suit was suit was eventually assigned to Justice Seidu and as at 1.23 p.m. on the day you sent the text, this matter was not assigned to any judge.

“Are you aware as a SAN that it is an offence not to declare an amount exceeding $10,000, are you aware that the amount your client travelling with was 200 million dollars?

“In a desperate bid to prevent the EFCC from continuing the investigation, you instituted a fundamental rights action (exhibit P23).

“You forwarded details of this suit in a text to Mr. Jide and in the usual manner, you mentioned Justice Yinusa to handle the case.

“Upon instituting this suit, the EFCC appeared before Justice Yinusa and the matter was resolved by His Lordship; you also did not file any process for the execution of the order you bought from Hon. Justice Yinusa.

“On November 9, 2015, Felix Deckon your litigation officer forwarded a text message forwarded a text message to Mr Jide.

“Text contained details of the charge preferred against your client by the EFFC,” Mr. Oyedepo said.

“I will not agree with you that in a desperate bid to stop the EFCC, I filed the fundamental rights action.

“The money in question was $2.2million and not $200million and my client was asking for the return of the $2.2million seized from his agent at the airport.

“I forwarded details of this suit to Mr Jide for confirmation purposes,” Mr. Nwobike claimed.

The EFCC also accused the lawyer of undue interference in a case involving Beauty Akpobolokemi and the anti-graft agency.

Beauty Akpobolokemi is the wife of Patrick Akpobolokemi, the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, standing trial over alleged fraud.

“On November 9, 2015, you received and read a message from Mr. Baruwa of the Federal High Court forwarding the details of a case between Beauty Akpobolokemi and the EFCC.

“The text informed you that the case has been assigned to Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and you filed a suit against the EFCC.

“You filed the suit against the EFCC in the middle of an EFCC investigation of Patrick Akpobolokemi.

“Prior to November 9, 2015, you forwarded a text to Mr. Jide where the name of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia was mentioned.

“At 8.50 a.m. on that day, you sent a text to Mr. Baruwa saying ‘Okay please take the file there now.’

“At 5.32 p.m., you forwarded the particulars of the case to Jide and this matter was eventually assigned to Justice Ajumogobia,

“Before Beauty Akpobolokemi suit was filed, you sent some names to Mr. Baruwa to monitor in case the EFCC prefers some charges against them,” Oyedepo said.

“I don’t know when the case of Beauty Akpobolokemi Vs the EFCC was assigned, it is not correct that I sent some names to Baruwa to monitor in case the EFCC files some charges,” Mr. Nwobike said.

Showing the SAN the documents on the screen in the courtroom, Mr. Oyedepo said “At 9.38 a.m. on November 5, 2015 you received and read a text from Mr Baruwa.

“The text read ‘good morning sir, no charged have been filed against those clients by the EFCC…’

“Your reply was ‘Thanks I am grateful.’

“These instructions you gave to Mr Baruwa, were they for free, have you had cause to give him money through your juniors, money transferred to him in the exercise of his duties?”

Responding, Mr. Nwobike said “No I have not given him any money.”

The EFCC prosecutor disputing the claim asked Mr. Nwobike if he knew any person called Zainab Kilani, and he answered in the affirmative, saying she is a junior in his law chambers.

“You received and read a text from Mr. Baruwa saying ‘Thank you sir, Kelani gave me your special package

“On June 3, 2015 at 10.10am, you received a text from Mr. Baruwa saying ‘Good morning Sir, I just got a golden handshake from Mr. Felix Sir.

“Exhibit D2 is a statement of account from your law chambers, on Jan. 17, 2011 you transferred N50,000 to Mr. Baruwa,” Mr. Oyedepo added.

Accusing the senior advocate further of obstructing justice, Mr. Oyedepo said Mr. Nwobike received photocopies of EFCC charges that were not yet filed in court.

“Mr. Baruwa sent a text message acknowledging handing over the charges to Mr Felix Deckon, your litigation officer.

“A charge that is not filed was given to you by your litigation officer without you applying for a certified true copy,” Mr. Oyedepo said.

Denying the accusations, Mr. Nwobike said “I did not apply for a certified true copy and I did not receive photocopy of the charge and I only received the charge when it was served on my clients.”

Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until July 12 at 10.3 a.m. for continuation of trial.



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  • Lexis Juris

    Premium Times Editor,

    Give me the head of Joseph Nwobike!!

    Few exceptionally best and ethical lawyers in Nigeria
    will never apply to be demeaned and called S.A.N because S.A.N in public
    is a badge of disgrace often worn nowadays by morally dissolute creatures
    without gumption. The chieftaincy title of S.A.N has no meaning other than as
    an expletive – a word merely added to fill out a sentence describing intellectual
    retardation without adding to the sense.

    This lawyer in the witness box, Joseph Nwobike,
    is self-described as S.A.N, but where’s his thinking lobe? He offers a
    plenitude of excuses as alibi but fails to hold his narrative together with
    a reed of logic after being outed at cross-examination, as reported, as
    less than forthright.

    Ours should go
    to Justice Yinusa or Justice Aneke
    “, that he’d typed in self-convicting
    damnation is no confirmatory text, since no lawyer is allowed under the law to
    select the Judge of his case. But here is a self-described S.A.N; Joseph Nwobike,
    struggling futilely to deny his salient attempt to corruptly influence or and select
    the Judge to decide his own filed case. If S.A.N chieftaincy title does not bespeak
    knowledge of law or betoken prudence of judgment, what does S.A.N title mean?

    • Tunji Olarewaju

      Wetin S.A.N. means? That one na simple question nah: Sinners Association Of Nigeria! Will somebody clap for me?!

      • Julius

        lolz, clap, clap, clap !!

  • OGK

    The Bench is bent on dancing Palongo with the Bar when it comes to corruption and sleaze. Despite this diligent prosecution, Nigerians won’t be surprised if this utterly corrupt lawyer waltzed his way to victory. Thank God, ‘on technical grounds’ is always there to be quoted by our judges. If Saraki, with Everest of evidence against him could win on ‘technical grounds’ , this Nwobike would surely be set free. It’s a matter of cash.

    • Atlanta Bulls


      I FIND IT DIFFICULT to read any judgment issued by a court in Nigeria because I will not know
      which judgment was purely reached by advocacy and legal reasoning on one hand; and which
      judgment was bought, by mostly empty-headed SENIOR ADVOCATES OF NIGERIA – many of
      whom can’t even speak English; to talk more of doing any sensible advocacy.

      I am not alone in my visceral hatred, actually.
      A good few of foreign lawyers overseas have long stopped reading Nigeria’s law reports;
      over 40 years ago. They don’t see any legal reasoning in it. Instead the reports stink
      of bribe-induced somersault by senseless Judges of the courts who just lack shame –
      besides lacking in ordinary reasoning ability to know right from wrong. What a mess!

  • NwaIgbo

    Please may we hear something else in Saraki’s Nigeria.Corrupt lawyers and judges are now somersaulting over each other to represent Nwaobike whose case may drag to 2020 at public expense only to be set free on technicalities. Then the same judicial system will sentence a pickpocket who stole a smartphone.
    The crime, the iniquity and the injustice in today’s Nigeria is crying to the high Heavens awaiting justice which must surely come. Go ahead and continue your oppression, no one lives for ever!

  • Hamza

    Criminal Elite protecting and corruption promoting Technical Judisharing!

  • Omoolomo

    @Atlanta Bulls:

    Senior Advocates of Nigeria don’t speak good English for the most part – agreed – but which profession does in Nigeria? Medical doctors are worse than useless in communicative ability. Even journalists are not less atrocious, as Nigeria under President Buhari regresses into illiteracy. See for example the following excerpt as front page of a national newspaper
    today, and try to make sense of the last sentence, in the light of the previous sentences. You will never be able to do so.
    That’s the extent Nigeria has collapsed grammatically.

    “Alhaji Haruna Vatsa, the first son of the late Maj,-Gen. Mamman Vatsa and the
    Director-General Protocol to Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger is dead. Haruna’s lone brother,
    Jibrin Mamman Jiya Vatsa, also died in September 2015 in the early hours of Sunday in
    Calabar, Cross River State, after a brief illness. The state government particularly
    commiserated with Haruna Mamman Vatsa, the elder brother of the deceased

  • Tommy Soto

    Several years ago I read an article pinned in Sahara Reporters by an UK expatriate on the endemic corruption in the country. His thesis still rings in my memory banks.

    I added two spaces to the link which can be deleted to read the entire article.

    The End Of An Assignment In Nigeria By Tim Newman

    Okay, so now I’ve got a post about Melbourne out of the way it’s time for me to say a little something about Nigeria. With the exception of a week in October when I need to clear out my apartment, I’ve pretty much left Nigeria. My assignment there officially finished on 31st July, although I will have to return for business trips over the course of the next 3 years because the project I am on in Melbourne is for Nigeria.
    BY TIM NEWMAN AUG 22, 2013

    http://saharareporters. com/2013/08/22/end-assignment-nigeria-by%C2%A0tim-newman

  • SAM .A

    “Nwobike had told the court that the money he allegedly gave to the judges was not gratification but “assistance” Not gratification but assistance , that is the new modus operandi of these New SANs , majority of them give assistance to the judge that is currently handling their cases .No wonder Nigeria Courts are overflowing with cases of corruption and when one of them is caught to face the wrath of law and consequences of perversion , they will gather a trailer loads of SANs for immoral support. Your cup is almost full.Nigeria judiciary is the incubator that is breeding and disseminating corruption , how then can they play the role of disinfectant of corruption .

    • Zygote

      Check this out: “a golden handshake from Mr. Felix Sir.” What a phrase!

      • Julius

        lolz, yes, I read that. Naijaaaaaaaa, na wa oo !

    • George

      And the judge that Buhari gave 500k to at his former miserable position then.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    The root of the endemic corruption culture in the Nigeria judiciary could be traced to the Nigerian-lawyers especially those SANs among them as Nigerian lawyers, are the main perpetrators of bribery-scheme in Nigerian courts up to the supreme court justices.Bribes-for-favourable judgements among our judges and justices, are aided and abetted by our lawyers as they continue to trade their law-practices with bribes for favourite judgements in our courts.

    • Michael

      The problem is so endemic that the disciplinary committee for lawyers is also infected with corrupt lawyers so nothing will happen.

    • Julius

      You are correct. I agree with you, the SANs are the major problem. Something must be done , maybe jail a couple of them for a long time and see what happens.

  • George

    What happen to the one buhari gave money to.

    What happen to the GLASS-CUTTER

    What happen to all the Billions discovered in Lagos State.

    What happen to former EFCC chairman case Mr. Lamedo.

    shameless APC.