The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday at an Ikeja High Court gave more incriminating evidence to establish a case of offering of gratification by Joseph Nwobike (SAN) to some judges.
Nwobike is lawyer to former Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi. He is defending the ex-NIMASA boss who is facing multiple criminal trials in Federal and Lagos State High courts.
The EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, confronted the lawyer with more evidence, this time connecting the timelines the text messages were sent by Nwobike before he appeared in court to argue cases at the court of some judges of the Federal High Court.
Nwobike is being tried by the EFCC on an 11-count bordering on perverting the course of justice and offering of gratification to public officials.
The anti-graft agency 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 also 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 some judges.
Nwobike, however, denied all the charges.
Oyedepo had on July 2 and July 4 while cross-examining the SAN, confronted him with evidence of the alleged text messages from an Extraction Report showed by a projector in the courtroom.
During proceedings on Friday, Oyedepo said, “On page 4356 on column 1158 shows that in Sep. 21, 2014 you sent this text to Mr Jide which is suit number FHC/L/CS/1133/2014 Dana Group of Companies and two others V Sterling Bank Plc, Mr Kunle Ogunba (SAN) and two others, this is a suit you filed.
“Your colleague, Mr Kunle Ogunba (SAN), was also a party to the suit and this suit was assigned on Sep. 23, 2014, and Justice Yinusa heard this suit. Can you confirm to the court who heard the suit?”
Responding Nwobike said, “Mr Kunle Ogunba was sued in his capacity as a receiver/manager.
“I cannot remember which judge heard the suit because there were six suits filed by me which involved Dana Motors Ltd.”
Continuing Oyedepo said, “On column 1157, on Sep. 21, 2014, you sent this text to Jide” ‘Good afternoon Sir, Wafa and another V Diamond Bank and two others, Kurya J, thanks so much.
“On June 30, 2014, you sent the details of that suit again to Jide and you sent this text: ‘Thanks, please help me with this one, it has urgency, I will showtomorrow, goodnight, My Lord.
“On the same day of June 30, 2014, at 5.26 pm, you forwarded the suit details of Lanre Olaoluwa Vs Federal Ministry of Power and Steel, Yinusa J, very important.
“I can tell you that this suit was instituted on the same day (June 30, 2014) and your firm paid N56,040 and Yinusa J ended up adjudicating in the matter.
“On June 26, 2014, you forwarded this text to Mr Jide: ‘Nestlé Vs FIRS, FHC/L/CS/940/2014, Yinusa J, thanks.’
“Jide, responding to your text said, ‘I did it last week, it is there already’.
“Earlier on that day, you received a text message from Collins, one of the counsel in your chambers on the same day.
“The text from Collins communicated the name of the parties and suit number of the Nestlé matter.
“The text from Collins was received by you at 7.16 am and you forwarded that text message to Jide suggesting Yinusa J at 7.31am.”
Denying the allegations, Nwobike said: “I don’t know how much my firm paid for the filing of the Lanre Olaoluwa suit.
“As at the time I sent the text message regarding the Olaoluwa suit, I thought the matter was already assigned.
“For the Nestlé suit, I think it was Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia that heard the suit and not Justice Yinusa.”
The EFCC prosecutor also revealed details of more text message communications between the SAN and the Federal High Court registrar.
He told the court, “You sent a text message on March 13, 2014, containing the suit number FHC/L/CS/347/14 and the parties Professor Emmanuel Adegbeyemi and six others Vs Mr Biodun Agbaje and 15 others and you suggested Justice Yinusa.
“On Nov. 3, 2013, you received and read a text message from Mr Jide asking you to remind you of a case with the suit number FHC/L/CS/960/13.
“The same day, you sent another text to Mr Jide responding, Thanks my dear brother, I will do so, thanks.
“On Nov. 1, 2013, you sent this text ‘Premier Plant Leasing Nigeria Ltd V Diamond Bank Plc suit number FHC/L/CS/960/2013, writing dated and filed July 9, 2013, Kurya J, please my bro, Nwobike.
“The response from Jide to remind you was in reply to this text and this was close to the annual vacation, the suit was eventually handled by Justice Kurya.”
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until July 26 for continuation of trial.
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