Dismissed judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, and her co-accused, Chief Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), yesterday pleaded not guilty to 18-count charge slammed on them.
They were re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Lagos on charges bordering on corruption, money laundering and unlawful enrichment by a public officer.
The dismissed judge had earlier been arranged before the court on April 18, on same charge but her co-accused Obla was not present.
At the resumed trial yesterday, Obla appeared before the court and the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed the court to take the plea of the accused afresh.
When the charge was read to the two defendants, Ajumogobia pleaded not guilty to 17 of the 18 counts in which her name was mentioned while Obla pleaded not guilty to the counts preferred against him.
After the plea of the defendants were taken, Oyedepo urged the court to remand Obla in prison and fix a date for commencement of trial.
However, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), appearing for Obla, orally applied for bail. In his submission, he told the court that Obla is a legal practitioner, who was called to bar in 1984 and wears the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He, therefore, urged the court to admit him to bail in liberal terms and defendant to be released to him.
The prosecution did not oppose the bail application. Rather, he asked for a trial date but Chief Robert Clark (SAN), leading Wale Akoni (SAN) and five other lawyers for the defence of Ajumogobia told the court that the preliminary objection filed before the court on May 13 on behalf of his client challenging jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter should first be trashed out.
In his response, Oyedepo told the court that the National Judicial Council (NJC) had recommended that Ajumogobia should be dismissed and President Mohammadu Buhari signed her dismissal on November,7, 2018.
While adjourning till May 23, Aikawa ordered Oyedepo to produce a copy of the dismissal letter. The judge granted bail to Obla in the same condition granted to Ajumogobia when she was first re-arraigned before on April 18 and also ordered that Obla should be released to his lawyer pending perfection of bail granted