Senior Lawyer, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, Tuesday denied bribing court officials in other to pervert the course of justice as alleged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Nwobike stated this while being cross-examined by EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo at the resumed hearing of an 11-count charge bordering on perverting the course of justice and offering gratification to public officials.
Rotimi had confronted the SAN with text messages he sent to court officials to allegedly unduly influence court cases he was handling.
The anti-graft agency also alleged that Nwobike offered gratifications to some judges of the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court to influence them to act contrary to their official capacities.
The EFCC further claimed that Nwobike engaged in sending illegal text messages with four registrars of the Federal High Court in a bid to unduly influence his cases being tried by the judges.
Nwobike, however, denied all the charges.
The defendant had on July 3, while being led in evidence by his defence counsel, Mr Olawale Akoni (SAN), Nwobike had told the court that the money he allegedly gave to the judges as gratification were assistance.
He had noted that the judges were old friends who he had been acquainted with while in University which was long before they were assigned as judges.
A compact disc (Exhibit P21) allegedly containing text messages from the SAN’s seized mobile phone (Exhibit P18) was projected on a screen during the cross-examination of Nwobike at his ongoing trial at an Ikeja High Court.
Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the lead prosecution counsel of the EFCC during proceedings on Tuesday, accused Nwobike of sending text messages to Mr Baruwa, a clerk of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
He claimed that Nwobike was aware that Baruwa worked with one Mr Jide, a Deputy Registrar of the court.
Responding, Nwobike said “I know Mr Baruwa, he is a clerk of the Federal High Court, I do not know he works with Mr Jide, he told me that his office is directly opposite Mr Jide’s office.
“I have had course to send messages to Mr Baruwa in the course of my duties just like any other legal practitioner,” Nwobike said.
Disputing Nwobike’s claims, Oyedepo said that Nwobike was aware that the clerk shared an office with the Deputy Registrar.
Denying Oyedepo’s accusations, Nwobike said “The text messages I sent were just confirmation text messages.
“On whether I knew that Brokeyard Marine Oil and Gas Services were under investigation by the EFCC, I don’t know because I don’t work for the EFCC,” Nwobike said.
Oyedepo accused the SAN of obstructing the prosecution of Dr Femi Thomas, a client of Nwobike who was allegedly caught at the Muritala International Airport with $200 million dollars.
“On Nov. 11, 2015 you sent a message to Mr Jide of the Federal High Court about a criminal charge filed against your client Dr Femi Thomas asking that it should be assigned to Justice Seidu.
“This suit was eventually assigned to Justice Seidu and as at 1.23pm on the day you sent the text, this matter was not assigned to any judge.
“Are you aware as a SAN that it is an offence not to declare an amount exceeding $10,000, are you aware that the amount your client travelling with was $200 million.
“In a desperate bid to prevent the EFCC from continuing the investigation, you instituted a fundamental rights action (exhibit P23).
“You forwarded details of this suit in a text to Mr Jide and in the usual manner, you mentioned Justice Yinusa to handle the case.
“Upon instituting this suit, the EFCC appeared before Justice Yinusa and the matter was resolved by his Lordship. You also did not file any process for the execution of the order you bought from Hon. Justice Yinusa.
“On Nov. 9, 2015, Mr Felix Deckon your litigation officer forwarded a text message forwarded a text message to Mr Jide.
“Text contained details of the charge proffered against your client by the EFFC,” Oyedepo said
“I will not agree with you that in a desperate bid to stop the EFCC, I filed the fundamental rights action.
“The money in question was $2.2 million and not $200 million and my client was asking for the return of the $2.2 million seized from his agent at the airport.
“I forwarded details of this suit to Mr Jide for confirmation purposes,” Nwobike claimed.
The EFCC also accused the SAN of undue inteference in a case involving Mrs Beauty Akpobolokemi and the anti-graft agency.
Beauty Akpobolokemi is the wife of Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), standing trial over alleged fraud.
Accusing the SAN further of obstructing justice, Oyedepo said Nwobike received photocopies of EFCC charges that were not yet filed in court.
“Mr Baruwa sent a text message acknowledging handing over the charges to Mr Felix Deckon, your litigation officer
“A charge that is not filed was given to you by your litigation officer without you applying for a certified true copy,” Oyedepo said.
Denying the accusations, Nwobike said “I did not apply for a certified true copy and I did not receive photocopy of the charge
“I only received the charged when it was served on my clients.”
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case to 10.30am on July 12 for continuation of trial.