The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday told an Ikeja High Court that Joseph Nwobike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who is being tried for allegedly bribing some judges, filed two of the eight suits which led to Justice Mohammed Yinusa’s sanction by the National Judicial Council, NJC.
Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the EFCC, made this known while cross-examining the judge in his ongoing trial for alleged perversion of course of justice and offering gratification to public officials.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the two suits are – John Simon Adhomene Vs the EFCC and Femi Thomas Vs the EFCC.
The anti-graft commission alleged that some of the misconduct of Messrs. Nwobike and Yinusa of the Federal High Court led to the judge’s sanction.
Mr. Oyedepo, who showed Mr. Nwobike a letter from the NJC dated November 8, 2016 which was addressed to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, said: “The NJC had considered the Simon John Adhomene suit and Dr Femi Thomas suit you filed against the EFCC.
“In recommending Justice Yinusa for dismissal, it was the findings of the NJC that the decision of the judge restraining the EFCC in those cases and five other cases were contrary to the Supreme Court’s decision in A.G Anambra Vs Andy Ubah.
“Out of the eight cases adjudicated by Justice Yinusa, the handling of which he was recommended for dismissal, two of those cases were filed by you (Nwobike).
Confronting Mr. Nwobike further about the John Simon Adhomene Vs the EFCC suit, Mr. Oyedepo said, “are you aware that as a SAN, a statutory body should not be restrained from carrying out its lawful duties.
“Would you agree with me that your client, Mr Adhomene was a public servant and a staff of the Niger Delta University?
“In the Simon Adhomene suit, your prayer was that Justice Yinusa should set aside the order of interim attachments granted by the Lagos High Court.
“You also asked Justice Yinusa for an order preventing the EFCC from restraining, inviting, interrogating, arraigning, and detaining your client in this suit.
“Your client, Mr Adhomene, prior to filing this suit, was yet to report to the EFCC notwithstanding an invitation to him.
“Your friend, Justice Yinusa presided over this matter, stopped the EFCC from arresting and arraigning your client.
“He set aside the order of the Lagos High Court which froze the account of your client as shown in Exhibit 11.”
“When you filed the suit before Justice Yinusa, the EFCC had filed a counter-affidavit and had attached the Lagos High Court order freezing that account.”
Mr. Oyedepo alleged that prior to the suit filed before Mr. Yinusa, the defendant allegedly had text message communication with one Mr. Jide, a Deputy Registrar of the Federal High Court, requesting the case be assigned to the judge.
“At 6.43 a.m. on Sep. 28, 2015, you sent the suit details of the Adhomene Vs EFCC case to the Mr Jide, you included the name of Justice Yinusa in that text.”
Responding to the EFCC allegations, Mr. Nwobike said he was not aware that his client was under investigation by the EFCC and that he was only aware of the facts given to him by his client.
“The brief I had was that the EFCC was not conducting the matter within the ambit of the law that set it up and that we should go to court seeking an order directing the EFCC to comply with the law.
“I can’t recollect knowing the fact that my client was a public servant before the commencement of the charge.”
On the Dr Femi Thomas Vs EFCC case, Mr. Oyedepo noted that text messages asking that the case be assigned to Yinusa were exchanged between Mr. Nwobike and Mr. Jide.
He said: “For the second case that led to Justice Yinusa’s sanction which is Dr Femi Thomas Vs the EFCC, you forwarded the suit number, parties and Justice Yinusa’s name via text message to Mr. Jide on September 22, 2015.
“You also forwarded the same suit details to Mr. Baruwa of the Federal High Court on the same day; when Collins, the lawyer in your chambers was almost done with the filing the suit at the registry, he sent a text to you.
“He told you in the text to call Mr. Jide because he was informed by Mr. Baruwa that you should call him. Justice Yinusa also heard that suit.”
The EFCC prosecutor also revealed details of more text message communications between Mr. Nwobike and court officials from an Extraction Report showed through the projector in the courtroom.
He added: “At 16.27 on June 2, 2015, you sent the suit details to Mr. Jide of Transnational Corporation V Attorney-General Federation with the names Yinusa J or Saidu J stating that ‘there is urgency’.
“You received the suit details of AMCON Vs Chief Aribisala on April 16, 2015 from Mr. Felix Deckon, your litigation officer and at 18.01 pm the same day, you forwarded the text to Mr. Jide mentioning ‘Idris J because he handles all the sister cases’.
“On April 14, 2015, a text message with the suit details of Ikeja Hotels Vs Goodie Ibru was sent to you and about 15 minutes later, you sent the details of this suit and suggested Justice Yinusa.
“This matter was eventually assigned to Justice Yinusa on April 15, 2015.
“Mr. Felix Deckon upon filing the suit of Toyin Subair Vs GTB and five others in court, sent the suit details to you on April 13, 2015.
“Immediately you received the text, you sent the details of the suit to Mr. Jide stating that it was a fundamental human rights action, adding that it should be assigned to Yinusa J.”
“On December 9, 2015, you sent the suit details of AMCON V Mettle Energy and Gas to Mr Jide, you suggested that the matter should go before Justice Aneke and the suit went to Justice Aneke and you appeared before him.”
Mr. Nwobike, however, did not outrightly deny sending the text messages.
NAN reports that 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.
The anti-graft agency alleged that 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 some judges.
Mr. Nwobike, however, denied all the charges.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until July 21 for continuation of trial.