Court Discharges Judge Accused Of Corruption, Two Others
SAN FRANCISCO, April 05, (THEWILL) – A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama has cleared Justice Adeniyi Ademola, his wife, Olabowale, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joe Agi of charges of corruption brought against them by the Attorney General of the Federation.
The trial judge, Justice Jude Okeke, on Wednesday struck out all the 18 counts, including gratification charges against the three defendants, as he uphold the respective no-case submissions filed by the defendants.
The charges were filed last year by the Office of the Attorney-General Federation following a late night raid by
operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, on the judge's house .
Recall that Justice Ademola of the Federal High Court was among the judges arrested in the October 7, 2016 nationwide operation by the Department of State Services.
He was later charged to court by the Attorney-General's office for, among others, allegedly receiving bribes during the discharge of his duties.
Ademola had requested an accelerated trial of his case before he was cleared of any wrongdoing on Wednesday by Justice Jude Okeke, who ruled that the prosecution was unable to make out a prima facie case with respect to any of the 18 counts.
In his final remarks, the presiding judge noted that the case of the prosecution was built on strong suspicion and speculation fueled by the feeling of fight against corruption which no reasonable court could base any conviction on.
He held that it would amount to asking the defendants to prove their innocence contrary to the provision of the Constitution which required the prosecution to prove their guilt.
Justice Okeke pointed out that the prosecution was unable to make out a prima facie case showing that the sum of N30m paid by Agi into Olubowale's bank account in three tranches of N10m each between March 11 and 26, 2015, was gratification meant to influence Justice Ademola in his official functions.
According to him, the prosecution was unable to show any contrary evidence to the claim by the defendants that the sum of N30m was not a gift passed from two mutual friends of Justice Ademola and Agi by the SAN to Olubowale in support of the Ademolas for the wedding of their daughters held in April 2015.
Justice Okeke ruled that the charges also failed to disclose which of the particular official functions of Justice Ademola – whether the judicial functions done in open court, administrative functions or prison – the N30m was meant to influence.
He also averred that the evidence of the 16th prosecution witness, an officer of the DSS, Mr. Babatunde Adepoju, who investigated the case, admitting that he could not link the gift of N30m to any case Agi was having before Justice Ademola was fatal to the case of the prosecution.