From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The ongoing joint trial of Justice Ademola Adeniyi, his wife, Olabowale and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Joe Agi, saw another startling revelation from a prosecution witness, Babatunde Adepoju who said Agi told the Department of State Services (DSS), during interrogation, that President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyer, Mr. Kola Awodein (SAN), gave N500,000 to Justice Ademola.
Justice Ademola, his wife and Agi are standing trial on charges of receiving gratification to influence justice.
Adepoju alleged Awodein paid the money to Justice Ademola in 2015, in Buhari’s certificate case.
Adepoju, 16th prosecution witness (PW16), said Agi told him Awodein gave the money to Ademola, but said it was not a bribe. He insisted it was a “gift,” for the wedding ceremony of the judge’s daughter.
Besides, Adepoju further clarified that the N500, 000 was part of gifts the judge received from many donors, towards his daughter’s wedding ceremony.
Adepoju, who was under cross-examination by the defence counsel, confirmed that Agi disclosed the information to him, in the course of investigation of the case.
He admitted in the witness box that he only interrogated and took statements of Justice Ademola and Agi, in the course of investigating the case against them.
Adepoju further confirmed that Agi explained, under interrogation, that N30 million was contributed by a mutual friend of his and Justice Ademola’s, for his daughter’s wedding ceremony.
Agi further explained that the money was paid into the account of Justice Ademola’s wife.
The defendants are facing 18 counts, including allegation that, on January 5, 2015, in his capacity as a public servant, Justice Ademola “corruptly received” from Agi, a BMW Saloon 320i valued at N8,500,000 through his son, Ademide Ademola, as gratification in the exercise of his official functions as a judge.
In addition, the federal government also alleged in five other counts, that Justice Ademola, through his wife, Olabowale, received gratification of N30 million, in three installments of N10 million each, from Agi, between March 11 and March 26, 2015.
In his evidence-in-chief on Monday, Adepoju disclosed that he investigated Olabowale’s account with a second generation bank where alleged deposits were made and a particular transaction which caught his attention were lodgments made in three tranches of N10 million, by Barrister Odey Agi.
“The first payment was made on March 11, 2015, the second on March 16, 2015 and the third was made on March 26, 2016. Agi said on December 13, 2015, the money paid into Olabowale’s account was as a result of instruction he got from two of his clients: Ken Hubert and Bassey Bassey, who instructed him to give $150, 000 in support of their daughter’s wedding.”
According to him, Joe Agi further narrated that both persons, who operated marine firms, under the name, Rangers Supsea Nigeria Limited and Bear Marine, were introduced to him by Justice Ademola.
“In my further investigation on the connection between Mrs Ademola and Agi, I tried to establish if Agi had cases pending or concluded before Justice Ademola and I discovered that they actually had cases in court.
“Two among the cases which raised eyebrows were of AMCON vs FRN and Friday Upkong vs. Chief of Naval Staff. These two cases involved huge sums of money. Both cases emanated from Calabar, Cross-River State, Justice Ademola’s previous posting. In the AMCON case, three garnishee orders were granted by Justice Ademola in favour of Joe Agi’s client, which is Linas International Limited. The first garnishee order was in excess of $637 million, dated February 2015.
“The second garnishee order was also granted in excess of $637 million, dated March 27, 2015, a day after the last tranche of N10 million was transferred into Olabowale’s account. The last garnishee order for Linas was in excess of $3.1 billion, in favour of Agi’s client.”
The witness further narrated how, in the case of Friday Ukpong Vs. Chief of Naval Staff, a garnishee order, to the tune of N300,050,000 was also granted in favour of Agi’s client.
He said the first garnishee order was granted in February 2015, shortly after the presentation of a car gift of N8.5 million to Ademola’s son.
The last tranches of the money, according to the witness, came into Olbowale’s account on March 26, 2015, a day before a garnishee order, in excess of $637 million and the last garnishee order, in the sum of $3.1 billion, five days after the N10 million was paid into Mrs. Ademola’s account.