A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr Joseph Nwobike, has been convicted and sentenced to 30days in prison by a Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, presided by Justice Raliat Adebiyi for offering gratification and attempt to pervert justice. The sentence is to run concurrently.
Nwobike was charged before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on 18 count charge bothering on ‘offering gratification to a public official, perverting the course of justice and giving false statements to an official of the EFCC.’
The court however found him guilty on 12 count and absolved him of six count. When he was arraigned, he had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
According to the prosecution, the convict exchanged of text messages with judges and court registrars as well as offered gratification to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
According to Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC prosecutor, Nwobike had on March 19, 2015 given the sum of N750,000 to Justice Yunusa and also on Dec. 15, 2014 given N250,000 to Helen Ogunleye, a Senior Executive Officer of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
The anti-graft agency argued that on March 4, 2014, Nwobike instructed Ogunleye (Justice Kurya’s registrar) to prevail on Justice Kurya to discharge a court order and on Dec. 15, 2014, he gave Ogunleye an envelope containing cash to give the judge.
The prosecution further argued that on March 4, 2014, Nwobike sent a text message to Ogunleye, saying “let Oga discharge that order,’ with Ogunleye replying, “I ‘ve told Oga the last time you called me that you are in Abuja sir, and he said there should be a cogent from you before he can do that sir. Just see him after court session sir, this is confidential sir, pls.”
EFCC further argued that Nwobike had also on Nov. 27, 2015 sent a text message “FHC/L/CS/1799/15 between Godwin Nwekoyo and Inspector General of Police” to Justice Musa Kurya, while on Oct. 8, 2015, he suggested in a text the assignment of Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1533/2015 between Mieka Dive Ltd and 3 Ors V EFCC to Justice Kurya.
The EFCC said on Sep. 23, 2015 Nwobike sent a text containing Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1471 between Mr Simon Adohmene and the EFCC to Justice Yunusa, and another text to Justice Yunusa for the assignment to his court of Dr Olufemi Thomas Vs The EFCC with suit no. FHC/L/CS/1445/2015.
He also suggested by text that Suit No. FHC/L/CS/794/2015 between Transnational Corporation and Attorney General of the Federation be assigned to either Justices Yunusa or Saidu, while on Feb. 12, 2015 Nwobike suggested in a text message that Suit No. FHC/L/CS/127/2015 between AMCON and Delta Steel Company Ltd be assigned to either Justices Yunusa or Aneke.
The EFCC also accused Nwobike of sending a text message to Mr Jide, a Federal High Court Assistant Registrar on June 30, 2014 Nwobike saying, “FHC/L/CS/1009/14, Lantern Olaoluwa and Federal Ministry of Power and Steel, Yunusa J, important Sir, please help me with this one, it had urgency, I will show tomorrow, goodnight my Lord.”
The anti-graft agency also alleged that on Feb. 26, 2016, Nwobike made a statement to Mr Zakari Usman, an official of the EFCC, saying “The only judicial officer that I had assisted financially is Justice Yunusa of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.”
The offences, according to the prosecution, violated Sections 39(2) 64(1) and 97(3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.