Court dismisses graft charges against Justice Ademola, wife, SAN
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, on Wednesday, dismissed all the 18 counts, including gratification charges preferred against Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court; his wife, Olubowale; and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joe Agi.
Justice Jude Okeke discharged the three defendants in a ruling upholding the respective no-case submissions filed by the defendants.
The charges were filed last year by the Office of the Attorney General Federation following the raid by the Department of State Services’ operatives on the judge’s house on October 7, 2016.
Justice Okeke ruled on Thursday that the prosecution was unable to make out a prima facie case with respect to any of the 18 counts after concluding its case with 19 witnesses and exhibits A to Z to warrant calling on the defendants to enter their defence.
Justice Okeke, in his final comments, noted that the case of the prosecution was built on strong suspicion and speculation fuelled by the feeling of fight against corruption, which no reasonable court could base any conviction on.
The court held that asking the defendants to enter their defence would amount to asking them to prove their innocence contrary to the provision of the Constitution which required the prosecution to prove their guilt.
Justice Okeke held that the prosecution was unable to make out a prima facie case showing that the sum of N30m, paid by Agi into Olubowale’s bank account in three tranches of N10m each between March 11 and 26, 2015, was gratification meant to influence Justice Ademola in his official functions.
Justice Okeke held that the prosecution was unable to show any contrary evidence to the claim by the defendants that the sum of N30m was a gift passed from two mutual friends of Justice Ademola and Agi by the SAN to Olubowale in support of the Ademolas for the wedding of their daughters held in April 2015.
The court ruled that the charges also failed to disclose which of the particular official functions of Justice Ademola the N30m was meant to influence.
He also ruled that the evidence of the 16th prosecution witness, an officer of the DSS, Mr. Babatunde Adepoju, who investigated the case, admitting that he could not link the gift of N30m to any case Agi was having before Justice Ademola was fatal to the case of the prosecution.
Justice Okeke also held that the BMW car gift worth N8.5m, presented by Agi to Justice Ademola’s son, Ademide, in January 2015, was meant to be gratification to influence the judge.
He ruled that the evidence of the first prosecution witness, an officer of Coscharis, the company which sold the car, did not show that Ademide received the car gift as an agent of his father, Justice Ademola, as alleged by the prosecution.