A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Joseph Nwobike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on Tuesday told an Ikeja Division of the Lagos High Court that the funds transferred by the lawyer into the bank account of a serving federal judge were meant for purposes which included a library upgrade.
Daniel Danladi, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said during cross examination that the money was not meant to pervert the course of justice.
Mr. Nwobike is facing trial before the court for allegedly offering gratification to judges.
The judges’ names include Mohammed Yinusa, H.A Ngajiwa, and Musa Kurya of the Federal High Court; and James Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court.
“The N300,000 given to Justice Ngajiwa by the defendant was for the update of his library and I don’t know if the defendant had any matter before the justice,” Mr. Danladi said, while also noting that “there was no evidence of payment or transfer from Justice Ngajiwa to Justice Yunusa in the sum of N300,000 on the instance of the defendant.”
Mr. Danladi had earlier stated in his statement that one “Mrs. Helen Ogunleye, a registrar of Justice Musa Kurya of the Federal High Court Ikoyi, had admitted to the EFCC of receiving N250,000 from the defendant.” He also revealed that “the communication between the defendant and Helen was for her to prevail on Justice Kurya to pervert the course of justice. This was contained in the text sent from Mr. Nwobike to Helen which read ‘let Oga discharge that order.’”
Asked by the defence lawyer, Olawale Akoni, if he found out during the course of the Commission’s investigation the order that Justice Kurya was asked to discharge, the prosecution witness said, “No my lord, I did not find out the order that Justice Kurya was said to discharge.”
Mr. Danladi said the defendant confirmed to the EFCC that the N750,000 was for the treatment of Justice Yunusa’s mother and the Justice also confirmed same to the commission.”
During further examination, the witness revealed that the EFCC had “filed the charges against Mr. Nwobike before completion of their investigation.” He also revealed that “I was not present when Mr. Nwobike’s statement was taken by the Crimes Commission, hence my inability to know the questions asked the defendant.”
The witness also said a total of 14,000 text messages were recovered from Mr. Nwobike’s phone and that some of them, in which some judges’ names were mentioned, were related to the case.
Earlier, Mr. Danladi had revealed that the content of a brown envelope received by Justice Yunusa from Mr. Nwobike was $2,500 ad that the federal judge received the envelope on September 29, 2015, as contained in a text sent by Mr. Nwobike to a lady named Debby.
The text message which was read by the witness stated, “I have given him an envelope containing $2,500. My regards.”
The witness also told the court that “the defendant on the 19th day of March 2015 had his bank account debited of N750,000 in favour of honourable Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court.” He further said that “the defendant had cases pending before the judge prior to and even after the payment of this money. He was also at the time of this payment still serving as the honourable judge of the Federal High Court.”
The witness also stated that on September 28, 2015, “there was a deposit, a credit of N300,000 coming from the law firm of the defendant to the company Awaja Nigeria limited and Justice H. A. Ngajiwa was the beneficiary of the funds which he received while serving as a justice of the Federal High Court.”
Justice Raliatu Akinbiyi adjourned the matter to May 5 and 18, 2017 for continuation of trial.