Judge refuses to order EFCC to release Justice Ajumogobia

Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos has rejected an ex parte application by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, seeking immediate release from the custody of the EFCC.

The EFCC had detained Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia while probing the source of about $793,800, which passed through the judge’s domiciliary accounts between 2012 and 2015.

The EFCC said the judge used the money to buy a house in London, adding that the judge failed to explain the source of her wealth.

The EFCC also alleged that the judge received a gratification of N5m from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Godwin Obla, at a time when the SAN had a case before the judge.

The agency had filed 30 counts against the judge and the SAN before the Lagos State High Court.

On Monday, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Moyosore Onigbanjo, appeared before Justice Muslim Hassan, with an ex parte application seeking the immediate release of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia.

Onigbanjo (SAN) contended that the continued detention of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia in the EFCC custody was a violation of the judge’s fundamental rights.

The SAN said his client had shown the readiness to defend herself against any charge that the EFCC might press against her.

Onigbanjo urged Justice Hassan to either order the EFCC to immediately take his client before a court if it had any charges against her or to order the EFCC to immediately release her if it was not ready to do so.

But Justice Hassan rejected the application, saying it would be fair to first hear from the EFCC. He directed the lawyer to put the EFCC on notice and adjourned the case till November 28, 2016.

Justice Hassan ruled: "The prayers being sought cannot be heard by motion ex parte."