EFCC Grills Senior Lawyers For Bribing Judges

There is palpable tension within Nigeria’s legal profession as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday grilled some elite lawyers alleged to have transferred huge sums of money to the bank accounts of some judges.

A source close to the EFCC identified the Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), who answered an invitation to the EFCC Office in Ikoyi, Lagos, in the morning. There names are:
Paul Usoro and Chief Gabi Adetola-Kaseem, as well as Chief Felix Fagbohungbe.

The invitations by EFCC are a sequel to the recent interrogation of two Federal High Court judges: Agbadu James Fishim and Uwani Abba Aji, and one judge of the Industrial Court.

The source said that the commission had also invited another senior lawyer, Adeniyi Akintola, but he did not show up. When SR reached Chief Akintola by phone, he denied receiving any invitation from the EFCC, and claimed he had just met with the Attorney General of the Federation in Abuja.

Chief Akintola was said to be in Abuja to defend a judge before the National Judicial Council (NJC) following a petition by a litigant. It is unclear whether his meeting with the Attorney General has anything to do with any judge in trouble.

Our source said the EFCC chairman was shocked that prominent senior lawyers who have an official relationship with the EFCC may also be involved in corruption within the judiciary.

The source stated that the leadership of EFCC may have opted to invite the senior lawyers following suggestions that the commission was planning to cover-up their illegal activities to preserve their working relationship.

Up to 30 senior lawyers are under probe for bribing judges according to an EFCC source.

Most of the the SANs under investigations have mansions and questionable bank accounts.

The source said: "We have discovered that corruption in the judiciary is widespread. Some SANs who have assisted the EFCC in handling some of our cases in the past are involved. Some of these lawyers had assisted us with useful legal opinions on several matters. So, we are in a dilemma."