The embattled Federal High Court judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and her co-defendant in an alleged fraud trial, Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN) have been granted leave to travel to the United States of America for urgent medical treatment.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi of an Ikeja High Court granted the duo permission to travel at the resumed hearing of their trail thursday.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is standing trial alongside EFCC prosecutor, Obla, on a 30-count charge bordering on perversion of the course of justice, graft, unlawful enrichment, providing false information to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and forgery.
The EFCC had alleged that about $793,800 passed through the judge’s domiciliary accounts between 2012 and 2015.
The judge allegedly used the money to buy a house in London.
In the charge, the anti-graft agency insisted that the defendants also allegedly committed an offence on May 24, 2015, when they conspired to pervert the course of justice with the sum of N5 million.
The said sum, according to the EFCC, was reported to have been transferred to one Nigel & Colive Limited.
The commission maintained that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is the sole signatory to Nigel & Colive, adding that both defendants conspired to pervert the course of justice, in contravention of the provisions of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.
The EFCC alleged that the N5 million paid by Obla, through his company’s account, was to restrain a public officer from acting in exercise of her official duties.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was equally alleged to have made a false statement to the EFCC that she was on admission at one Gold Cross Hospital at Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi in Lagos, which statement was later found to be false.
The anti-graft agency insisted that the offences were contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011, as well as the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004.
At yesterday’s proceedings, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia had through her counsel, Mr. Olawale Akoni (SAN) sought the leave of the court to travel to the U.S. for urgent medical attention at Morris Height Center, Bronx New York.
The embattled judge, in a 17-paragraph affidavit in support of her application, said she has been suffering from high blood pressure, hypertension, heart palpitations, and stress-related issues.
But EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo opposed the application, contending that if Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was granted leave to travel, she might jump bail and not come back to face her trial.
Oyedepo also contended that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s request to travel for thirty days was a ploy to stall the trial.
Ruling on the application, Justice Oshodi pointed out that the court has judicial discretion to rule on the application.
“The prosecution failed to give evidence to counter why the applicant’s sickness cannot be treated in Nigeria. Also, how the prosecution came to the decision that the defendant would jump bail is best known to him.
“I believe that the 1st defendant as a Federal High Court Judge has a lot to lose if she considers the idea of jumping bail.
“The Chief Registrar is hereby ordered to release the international passport of the 1st defendant to enable her travel abroad between June 7th to June 13th, 2017. The defendant must return the passport to the Chief Registrar on or before July 1, 2017,” Justice Oshodi ruled.
Justice Oshodi also granted the 2nd defendant, Obla permission to travel to Houston, Texas in the U.S. for medical treatment.
“The 2nd defendant is also granted leave to travel for medical treatment and must also return his passport to the Chief Registrar on July 4,” the judge ruled.
After the ruling, the EFCC called its 10th witness, a legal practitioner, Charles Musa who told the court that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia who was his classmate and friend, called him to help draw up a deed of agreement.
“I sent her an email about the terms of agreement and she did not get back to me again,” he said.
Oyedepo, however, tendered the deed of agreement between Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s company, Nigel and Colive, and another company, County and City Bricks, purportedly drawn by the witness, Musa, who denied signing or drafting the deed of agreement between the two companies.
Justice Oshodi thereafter adjourned the matter till July 7 for continuation of the trial.