The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday at an Ikeja High Court filed fresh corruption charges against Joseph Nwobike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN.
Mr. Nwobike, prior to his re-arraignment, is facing similar charges of offering gratification to a public official, perverting the course of justice and giving false statements to an official of the EFCC.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the newly amended 18-count charge of offering gratification to a public official, perverting the course of justice and giving false statements to an official of the EFCC, according to a News Agency of Nigeria report.
The new charges border on the exchange of text messages between the SAN, judges and court registrars as well as alleged gratification to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
According to Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Nwobike had on March 19, 2015 given N750,000 to Justice Yunusa and also on December 15, 2014 given N250,000 to Helen Ogunleye, a Senior Executive Officer of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
The anti-graft agency alleged that on March 4, 2014, Mr. Nwobike instructed Ms. Ogunleye (Justice Kurya’s registrar) to prevail on Justice Kurya to discharge a court order and on December 15, 2014, he allegedly gave Ogunleye an envelope containing cash to give the judge.
It was also alleged that on March 4, 2014, Mr. Nwobike sent a text message to Ms. Ogunleye, saying “let Oga discharge that order.”
It is alleged by the EFCC that the instruction was acted upon with Ms. Ogunleye replying, “I ‘ve told Oga the last time you called me that you are in Abuja sir, and he said there should be a cogent from you before he can do that sir. Just see him after court session sir, this is confidential sir, pls.”
The EFCC alleged that the embattled senior advocate exchanged text messages with some judges of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Mr. Nwobike had on November 27, 2015 sent a text message “FHC/L/CS/1799/15 between Godwin Nwekoyo and Inspector General of Police” to Justice Musa Kurya.
On October 8, 2015, Mr. Nwobike had allegedly suggested in a text the assignment of Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1533/2015 between Mieka Dive Ltd and 3 Ors V EFCC to Justice Kurya.
The EFCC said on September 23, 2015 Mr. Nwobike sent a text containing Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1471 between Simon Adohmene and the EFCC to Justice Yunusa.
It is also alleged that the SAN sent a text to Justice Yunusa for the assignment to his court of Olufemi Thomas Vs The EFCC with suit no. FHC/L/CS/1445/2015.
On June 4, 2015, Mr. Nwobike in the nee charges allegedly suggested by text that Suit No. FHC/L/CS/794/2015 between Transnational Corporation and Attorney General of the Federation be assigned to either justices Yunusa or Saidu.
On Feb. 12, 2015 Nwobike had suggested in a text message that Suit No. FHC/L/CS/127/2015 between AMCON and Delta Steel Company Ltd be assigned to either Justices Yunusa or Aneke.
The EFCC also in the charges alleged that Mr. Nwobike in a text message to Mr. Jide, a Federal High Court Assistant Registrar, ordered that the case Odefa Obasi Odefa and the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) with Suit No. FHC/L/CS/13/2015 be assigned to either Justices Yunusa or Aneke.
On October 8, 2014, Mr. Nwobike allegedly sent a text to Mr Jide with these words “Combase Energy Ltd and Anor Vs UBA Plz and Ors. FHC/L/CS/1492/2014, Saidu thanks, sorry Kurya, he said he will start sitting next week, thanks.”
On September 22, 2014, the SAN allegedly sent to Mr Jide “Good afternoon sir, Wafa and Anor Vs Diamond Bank and two others, FHC/L/CS/1395/14, Kurya. Thanks so much.”
On June 30, 2014 Mr. Nwobike allegedly sent a text message to Mr. Jide saying, “FHC/L/CS/1009/14, Lantern Olaoluwa and Federal Ministry of Power and Steel, Yunusa J, important Sir, please help me with this one, it had urgency, I will show tomorrow, goodnight my Lord.”
On March 13, 2014, Mr. Nwobike is alleged to have sent Mr. Jide a text message stating “Suit No: FHC/L/CS/347/14 between Professor Emmanuel Adegbeyeni and six others and Mr Biodun Agbaje and 15 others Yunusa.”
The anti-graft agency also alleged that on February 26, 2016, Mr. Nwobike made a statement to Zakari Usman, an official of the EFCC.
The SAN allegedly told the EFCC investigator: “The only judicial officer that I had assisted financially is Justice Yunusa of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.”
The offences, according to the prosecution, violated Sections 39(2) 64(1) and 97(3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until April 30 for trial.