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Ofili-Ajumogobia Judge allegedly enjoyed juicy foreign trips sponsored by NIMASA while handling agency's case

The agency was said to have flouted its own employment policy simply to grant the judge’s daughter a curious extended study leave.

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Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia play

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia

(Sahara Reporters)

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) reportedly sponsored lavish foreign trips of the embattled high court judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.

According to Premium Times, Ofili-Ajumogobia was at the time presiding over cases in which the agency was either a party or had interest.

She was said to have so much influence in the agency under the leadership of  Patrick Akpobolokemi, who is currently being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over N1.2 billion fraud.

The agency was said to have flouted its own employment policy simply to grant the judge’s daughter, who is an employee of the agency, a curious extended study leave.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is also facing a 30-count charge of bribery and money laundering.

In the charges against the judge, the EFCC alleged that she received a bribe of N5 million from a senior lawyer, Godwin Obla, around May 21, 2015, with the aim of "perverting the course of justice in respect of suit number FHC/L/C/482C/10.

"That you, Hon. Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili-Ajumogobia, between the 10th and 30th day of May 2013, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, being a judge of the Federal High Court, enriched yourself with a total sum of $130,000 through your account (0032091183) domiciled in Diamond Bank Plc, so as to have a significant increase in your assets that you cannot reasonably explain in relation to you your lawful income," one of the charges against the duo read.

In the suit FHC/L/C/482C/10, a former director-general of NIMASA, Raymond Omatseye, was charged for N1.5 billion fraud involving bid rigging and contract splitting.

The case was handed over to Ofili-Ajumogobia in November 2012 after the original judge in charge, Binta Nyako, was transferred to Makurdi, Benue State.

On May 21, 2016, Ofili-Ajumogobia, sentenced Omatseye to five years in jail after finding him guilty of 24 of the 27 counts. She specifically ruled that Omatseye awarded contracts above stipulated threshold.

Omatseye, who insisted he was innocent and has since approached the Appeal Court for a review of the judgment.

Obla, who is now facing corruption charges alongside Ofili-Ajumogobia, was counsel for the EFCC, which prosecuted Omatseye.

The anti-graft agency later said that Obla offered Ofili-Ajumogobia a bribe of N5 million to declare Omatseye guilty, Premium Times reports.

ALSO READ: Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia reportedly owns $900K in foreign banks

The report further said that the EFCC claimed Obla transferred the alleged bribe from the account of his company, Obla and Company Limited with United Bank for Africa, to Ofili-Ajumogobia through the bank account of Nigel and Colive Limited in Diamond Bank.

The EFCC said the judge and Obla acted contrary to sections 64 (1) and 97 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No. 11, 2011.

Apart from the case involving Omatseye, further investigations by the online newspaper reveals that Ofili-Ajumogobia got other benefits from NIMASA while presiding over cases involving the maritime agency.

Documents, including official internal memos of NIMASA and travel documents, seen by Premium Times, show that the judge accepted curious lavish favours from NIMASA while presiding over a $400 million suit between the maritime agency and the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG).

While Ofili-Ajumogobia was handling the case, her daughter, Aribim, allegedly secured a job as Medical Services Officer II at NIMASA.

The judge was also alleged to have stood as her daughter's guarantor so that she could be granted an undeserved study leave to pursue a medical degree in South America, in clear violation of the agency’s recruitment policy.

NIMASA, according to the report, also included the judge in its delegation that attended two workshops, which are of no relevance to judicial officials, in the United States in 2013 and 2014.


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