Alleged money laundering: EFCC re-arraigns Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on
Wednesday re-arraigned a Judge of the Federal High Court, Rita
Ofili-Ajumogobia, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla, over alleged
money laundering charges.

EFCC charged Ofili-Ajumogobia and Obla on 18 counts
bordering on conspiracy, unlawful enrichment, retention of crime proceeds and
money laundering.

The defendants are standing trial before Justice Rilwan
Aikawa. Both defendants pleaded not guilty to all counts of the charge.

The defendants were first charged before an Ikeja Division
of the High Court, which was struck out the charge on jurisdictional grounds.

Consequent upon the dismissal of the charge, the prosecution
preferred same charges against the defendants, before the Federal High Court.

While Ofili-Ajumogobia took her plea to the charge on April
18, the second defendant (Obla) was absent from court.

Ajumogobia had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and was
granted a bail of N10 million with two sureties in like sum.

The court had, consequently, ordered Obla’s appearance in
court to answer to the charges.

On Wednesday, Obla showed up in court and was re-arraigned
alongside Ajumogobia.

They each denied complicity in the criminal charge marked

Messrs Robert Clarke, SAN, and Ferdinard Orbih, SAN,
announced appearance for the first and second defendants respectively.

After their pleas, the Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the
court to give a trial date, while the defendants be remanded in custody.

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But defence counsel, (Orbih) informed the court of a bail
application filed on behalf of Obla since April 24, adding that same had been
served on prosecution.

In response, Oyedepo described the bail application as
“strange” on the grounds that the charge had not even been served on the
defendant before his bail application was filed.

According to prosecution, the charge was only served on Obla
in court this morning and so he could not have filed an application for bail
while the charge had not been served on him.

Responding, Orbih informed the court that he got wind of the
proceedings on the pages of newspapers, following which he approached the court
to get a copy of the charge even before receiving same from prosecution.

He told the court that the defendant was desirous of
attending court and defending the allegations against him rather than evading.

He urged the court to hear and allow the bail.

In his decision, Justice Aikawa also granted Obla a bail of
N10 million with two sureties in like sum, who must be landed property owners
in Lagos, or grade level 16 in the Federal Civil Service.

The court adjourned the case until May 23 for trial.

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EFCC alleged that the duo conspired on May 21, 2014 to
indirectly conceal different sums of money in the Diamond Bank account of Nigel
& Colive Ltd, a company alleged to be operated by Ajumogobia.

They were alleged to have conspired to retain in same
account, the sum of N500 million, which they both reasonably ought to have
known formed part of proceeds of unlawful acts of unlawful enrichment.

For instance, Ajumogobia was alleged to have on different
dates in 2014, retained sums of monies like: N5 million; $150,000; $20,000; $30,000;
$50,000, and $55,000 in the Diamond Bank account of Nigel and Colive.

The EFCC also accused Ajumogobia of indirectly concealing
N12 million in the same account, and making false statement to the EFCC that
the money was payment for sale of a landed property.

The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections
15 (2) (a) and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.

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