A Lagos high court has reserved judgment in a criminal charges trial of a senior Advocate of Nigeria Dr. Joseph Nwobike SAN for an alleged inducement to pervert the cause of justice.
Justice Raliat Adebiyi had on the 8th of February reserved judgment in the case to Monday April 30th, after the economic and financial crime commission EFCC’s counsel Rotimi Oyedepo enumerate and adopted his final written address for the prosecution as well as the defendant’s counsel Olawale Akoni SAN for the defence.
Nwobike was first arraigned on five counts charges on March 9, 2016.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which is prosecuting him, later amended the charges on two different occasions, each time leading to the re-arraignment of the SAN.
The last amendment to the charges saw Nwobike re-arraigned on February 8 after which the lawyers canvassed their final arguments. In the charges, EFCC claimed that Nwobike offered N750,000 and N300,000 gratifications to Justices Mohammed Yunusa and Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, respectively. Both judges are Federal High Court judges.
The EFCC claimed that Nwobike offered them the money to allegedly perverting the course of justice. Counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, claimed that Nwobike acted contrary to Section 97 (3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No. 11, 2011. But the senior lawyer pleaded not guilty.
Canvassing final arguments Nwobike’s lead counsel, Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN), had urged the court to discharge and acquit his client, contending that the EFCC failed to substantiate its allegations against him. Akoni said contrary to the claim by the EFCC, the N750,000 that Nwobike gave to Justice Yunusa was not a bribe but “for the specific purpose of helping the (sick) mother of the gentleman.”
He said all the judgments which the EFCC claimed that Nwobike paid Justice Yunusa to give in his favor were all upheld by the Court of Appeal. He urged Justice Adebiyi to dismiss the charges and set Nwobike free. But the EFCC prosecutor, Oyedepo, countered him, urging the court to convict Nwobike.
“Could it be said that in line with the evidence of PW1 to PW7, the exhibits that we have tendered and the evidence elicited from the defendant during cross-examination, the defendant did not commit the offense he was charged with?” Oyedepo queried.
He noted that Nwobike did not deny giving N750,000 to Justice Yunusa when he had cases before the judge, adding that it was no defense that the Court of Appeal upheld Justice Yunusa’s judgments.
“The only gifts that are allowed are complimentary gifts – cards, books,”
“As it stands today in our administration of criminal justice system, both the giver and the receiver of gratification are suspects; so, if that is taken, the evidence of Justice Yunusa, who is the recipient of the gratification, a co-accused, cannot incriminate another accused; his evidence goes to no issue,” he said.
He noted that already those judges had been separately charged in relation to the allegations. He urged the judge to apply full probative value to all the evidence given by the prosecution and convict Nwobike accordingly.
After hearing the parties out, Justice Adebiyi fixed Monday April 30, 2018, for judgment.