BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE,
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday told a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja that embattled Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Dr Joseph Nwobike filed two of the eight cases which led to the sack of a Federal High Court Judge, Justice Yinusa.
The EFCC had accused Nwobike of offering 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 commission had also alleged that the senior lawyer 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, pleaded not guilty to the 11-count charges.
While cross-examining Nwobike on Wednesday, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo said the two suits are: John Simon Adhomene V The EFCC and Dr Femi Thomas V The EFCC.
While tendering a letter from the National Judicial Council (NJC) dated Nov. 8, 2016 which was addressed to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Oyedepo said “The NJC had considered the Simon John Adhomene suit and Dr Femi Thomas suits you filed against the EFCC.
He said, “In recommending Justice Yinusa for dismissal, it was the findings of the NJC that the decision of the judge restraining the EFCC in those cases and five other cases were contrary to the Supreme Court decision in A.G Anambra V Andy Ubah.
“Out of the eight cases adjudicated by Justice Yinusa, the handling of which he was recommended for dismissal, two of those cases were filed by you.”
Confronting Nwobike further about the John Simon Adhomene V The EFCC suit, Oyedepo said “Are you aware that as a SAN, a statutory body should not be restrained from carrying out its lawful duties.
“Would you agree with me that your client Mr. Adhomene was a public servant and a staff of the Niger Delta University?
‘In the Simon Adhomene suit your prayer was that Justice Yinusa should set aside the order of interim attachments granted by the Lagos High Court.
“You also asked Justice Yinusa for an order preventing the EFCC from restraining, inviting, interrogating, arraigning, and detaining your client in this suit.
“Your client Mr. Adhomene prior to filing this suit was yet to report to the EFCC not withstanding an invitation to him.
“Your friend Justice Yinusa presided over this matter, stopped the EFCC from arresting and arraigning your client.
“He set aside the order of the Lagos High Court which froze the account of your client as shown in exhibit 11.
“When you filed the suit before Justice Yinusa, the EFCC had filed a counter-affidavit and had attached the Lagos High Court order freezing that account to it,” he said.
Oyedepo alleged that prior to the suit being filed before Yinusa, the SAN allegedly had text message communication with one Mr. Jide, a Deputy Registrar of the Federal High Court requesting the case be assigned to the judge.
“At 6.43am on Sep. 28, 2015, you sent the suit details of the Adhomene V EFCC case to the Mr Jide, you included the name of Justice Yinusa in that text,” Oyedepo alleged.
Responding to the EFCC allegations, Nwobike said “I was not aware that my client was under investigation by the EFCC, I was only aware of the facts given to me by my client.
“The brief I had was that the EFCC was not conducting the matter within the ambit of the law that set it up and that we should go to court seeking an order directing the EFCC to comply with the law.
“I can’t recollect knowing the fact that my client was a public servant before the commencement of the charge.”
On the Dr Femi Thomas V The EFCC case, Oyedepo noted that text messages asking that the case be assigned to Yinusa were exchanged between the SAN and Mr Jide.
He said “For the second case that led to Justice Yinusa’s sanction which is Dr Femi Thomas V The EFCC, you forwarded the suit number, parties and Justice Yinusa’s name via text message to Mr Jide on Sep. 22, 2015.
“You also forwarded the same suit details to Mr. Baruwa of the Federal High Court on the same day.
“When Collins the lawyer in your chambers was almost done filing the suit at the registry, he sent a text to you.
‘He told you in the text to call Mr Jide because he was informed by Mr Baruwa that you should call him.
“Justice Yinusa also heard that suit,” he said.
The EFCC prosecutor also revealed details of more text message communications between the SAN and court officials from an Extraction Report beamed onto a projector in the courtroom.
“At 16.27 on June 2, 2015, you sent the suit details to Mr. Jide of Transnational Corporation V Attorney-General Federation with the names Yinusa J or Saidu J stating that ‘there is urgency’.
“On April 14, 2015 a text message with the suit details of Ikeja Hotels V Goodie Ibru was sent to you.
“About 15 minutes later, you sent the details of this suit and suggested Justice Yinusa.
“This matter was eventually assigned to Justice Yinusa on April 15, 2015.
“Mr Felix Deckon upon filing the suit of Toyin Subair V GTB and five others in court, sent the suit details to you on April 13, 2015.
“Immediately you received the text, you sent the details of the suit to Mr Jide stating that it was a fundamental human rights action adding that it should be assigned to Yinusa J.
“On Dec. 9, 2015 you sent the suit details of AMCON V Mettle Energy and Gas to Mr Jide, you suggested that the matter should go before Justice Aneke.
“This suit went to Justice Aneke and you appeared before him.” Oyedepo said.
Nwobike, however, did not out rightly deny sending the text messages.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until July 21
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