By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
The prosecution has opened its case against Justice Adeniyi Ademola, his wife Olabowale and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Joe Aji on charges bordering on money laundering.
The three accused are being prosecuted for alleged corruption before Justice Jude Okeke of an Abuja High Court.
They were arraigned by the Federal Government through the Economic Financial and other Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 16-count of criminal conspiracy to receive gratification in various ways contrary to Section 8(1)(a) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Act 2000.
Ademola was among the seven Justices that the Department of state Services (DSS) carried out a sting operations on October 8 and October 9.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr Segun Jegede, had on January 9 informed the court that he would file an amended charge to bring in a third defendant, Agi.
The first prosecution witness, Ifeoma Ofornagolu, a sales consultant with Cocharis Motors, Lagos, told the court that she had been with the company for three years.
Ofornagolu said that she first heard the name of Aji after a sales talks with Ademide Ademola on his choice of car BMW 320i
She gave Aji’s name as an attentions person that means the payment would come from him, adding that the talk went on between December, 2014 and January 2015.
The witness said the car was worth eight million naira and Jie Aji &Associates paid for it through its Zenith account to the company’s Zenith bank account on Jan. 5, 2015
She said she issued a recipt in the name of Ademide Ademola and the car was delivered at Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
Ofornagolu said at the house they met Ademide and she did the check signed off and collected the car.
She told the court that she went with a driver and the delivery note
She tended the invoice, receipt, delivery note, certificate of identification and two email letters was admitted in evidence.
Counsel to Ademolas, Onyechi Ikpeazu objected to the admission of the email letters, contending that they were not disposed by the witness.
He therefore urged the court not to admit it.
The 2nd and 3rd counsel aligned and Jegede withdrew the second email the one addressed to Prince Niyi.
The witness told the court that she was invited to the headquarters of the Department of State Services (DSS) on Dec. 2.
She was interviewed and she made a written statement in her hand writing. The statement was tended.
The prosecuting counsel complained to the court that the courtroom was not conducive for day to day proceeding.
An alternative venue should be given or the present venue be upgraded to be fit the usage. Or an open place be assigned to allow for sufficient ventilation.
Ikpeazu viewed the complaint as not serious enough to stop proceedings.
Chief Roberts Clarke (SAN) said though there was less ventilation however the case should go on.
This same court room has been used. always and no casualties has been recorded when the situation arises the court would know what to do.
Mr Jeph Njikonye aligned but added that the complainant was a member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The judge ruled that the court complex has a central cooling system.
That the chief registrar be informed and that due to the nature of the case the was an increase in the number of people the facilities should be in order.
“ In the interim the doors and windows Be opened meanwhile proceeding should commence, “ he said.
Jegede informed the court to allow for his opening statement as provided in section 300 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
Clarke said it was not mandatory that it could be weaved.
Okeke ruled that an opening statement he could go ahead since the plea has been taken as provided by that section .
Jegede said the prosecution had 14 witnesses to enable them discharge the burden of proof provided by the law. 12 are factual witnesses while two are subpoenaed,
The executive Secretary of National judicial Council (NJC) and the chief registrar of the Federal High Court.
Ikpeazu objected to the admissibility of the the document.
He said the provision of the Evidence Act 2011 did not permit such as provided in sections 331 and 332.
Clarke said if there were no contradictions in her oral statements that the written statement was irrelevant and amounts to a waste of time.
Njikonye aligned and said that the statement was not made under oath but under caution.
Jegede said that the Sections 83 of the Evidence Act dealt exclusively with the cross examination not the evidence in chief, it dealt with impeachment
He said they have not shown any legality or express of bar on the statement tend to tender.
Okeke adjourned till Jan. 17 to rule on the admissibility of the statement.
Prosecution opens case of money laundering against Justice Ademola
By Wahab Akanji, Abuja