• ‘Carry out proper investigation before arraignment’
Justice Adeniyi Ademola, his wife, Olabowale and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Joe Agi were, yesterday, discharged and acquitted by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in Maitama, Abuja after upholding their no-case submission on all the 18-count charge bordering on gratification brought against them.
Justice Jude Okeke in his ruling described the charges as highly speculative and unmeritorious. He held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against all the defendants.
“I have read the address of parties and examined all the exhibits tendered before the court and found that prosecution have not proved any of the essential elements of crime against the defendants.”
The charges were filed by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation following the raid by the Department of State Service’s operatives on the judge’s house on October 7, 2016.
Justice Okeke held that section 97 of the Penal Code under which the defendants were charged did not provide for ingredients for conspiracy but punishment.
“No person shall be punished for an act not provided for in the law. Therefore, Section 36 (a) of the 1999 constitution rendered the charges incompetent and it is hereby struck out.”
Justice Okeke also noted that the 19 witnesses called by the prosecution did not link the N30 million transferred by Agi to Justice Ademola’s wife to the judge, neither were they related to the garnishee orders made by Justice Ademola for three companies in Cross Rivers State.
The Judge stated that none of the prosecution witness from Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) who testified was able to disclose the purpose for which the N30 million was transferred.
It was the position of the court that the evidence of the prosecution witness which turned to be in favour of the defendants are true, essentially, as the prosecution counsel, Segun Jegede, did not declare the witness as a hostile witness.
The court further noted that charges 6,7 and 8, which alleged that the N10 million was transferred from Agi to Justice Ademola’s wife, were not established to show how it influenced the official functions of her husband (first defendant).
“The third defendant (Agi) ought not be called to put up his defence when the counts did not meet the constitutional standard,” he ruled.
On the huge sums of money recovered from the residence of Justice Ademola, which was tendered in court, the court said there was nothing to show that the money was proceeds of illegality.
Justice Okeke added that the prosecution witness from the Federal High Court testified that Justice Ademola earns over N500, 000 as salary and about N300, 000 as allowances and that he also earned estacode of about N1.2 million.
The court also held that Justice Ademola, in his statement, revealed that he is a son of a former Justice of the Court of Appeal and a grandson of former Chief Justice of Nigeria and that he inherited vast wealth from his parents including the sum of N500 million which he benefited from the income generated from his father’s estate.
“It cannot be said that a man who earns salary and derived benefits from his parents estate cannot possess capacity to monster such amount of money in his house,” he said.
The court also reasoned that nobody has claimed that the amount found in Justice Ademola’s residence was missing or belonged to him.
On the alleged illegal possession of firearms (two pump action rifles) and 35 live ammunition for which Justice Ademola was charged under Robbery and Firearms Act, the Judge held that while one of the rifles belongs to Justice Ademola, the other belongs to his brother Judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed.
Justice Okeke stated that the charge, which read “with valid licence”, took it out of the case of Robbery and Firearms Act.
“It is my humble view that the charge is inconsistent with the Robbery and Firearms Act. There is no evidence before the court to show that the DSS requested for valid licence of the rifles which the defendant did not provide at the time his house was searched.”
The court noted that the Robbery and Firearms Act provides for a reasonable time for suspects to produce licence and since Ademola had produced a licence, there was nothing more for him to explain.
On the charge that Justice Ademola gave false information to Babatunde Adepoju, a DSS official, that one of the gun belonged to Justice Mohammed, the court said that the evidence of Justice Mohammed was vital to establish whether it was a false information noting that the prosecution could have called Justice Mohammed to testify or tender his statement in evidence to prove their case.
On the allegations that Agi bought a BMW car worth N8 million as a gift to Justice Ademola’s son, Ademide, to influence his father, the court held that the prosecution did not prove that Ademide received the car as an agent of his father because he is an adult and Coscharis where the car was bought had testified that Ademide was the owner of the car.