By CHRIS EKEKE
Justice Jude Okeke of an Abuja High Court yesterday freed Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, his wife who is the Head of Service of Lagos State, Olubowale and their family lawyer, Joe Agi, SAN from the 18-count corruption charge filed against them by the federal government.
Justice Okeke, while ruling on a no case submission filed by the accused persons, dismissed all the 18-count charge and discharged them of the charges.
Justice Ademola was one of the seven judges, the DSS raided their homes in the dead of the night and arrested them on October 7 and 8, 2016. The federal government later filed an 18-count charge of alleged conspiracy, giving and receiving of gratification and illegal possession of fire arms against Justice Ademola and others.
The prosecution led by Segun Jegede, called 18 witnesses to testify against them to prove government’s case against the accused persons.
In their response, the defendants filed a no case submission on ground that the prosecution had failed to link them in anyway with the filed charge.
In a ruling that lasted for about four hours, Justice Okeke held that the prosecution had not in any way linked the defendants with any of the 18 counts in the charge and as such there is no basis to call on the defendants to open defence in the matter.
On the count of conspiracy, the court held that the prosecution charged the defendants based on a non-existing law, adding that such count cannot stand before a reasonable tribunal.
On the payment of N30 million by Agi into the account of Mrs. Ademola, the court held that the prosecution failed to show that the payment was a gratification in order to pervert the cause of justice.
He further held that all the witnesses who gave evidence to that effect did not establish the fact that the payment was a gratification.
Dismissing the count relating to the purchase of a BMW car for the son of Justice Ademola, Ademide, the court held that the prosecution did not show any link that the said car was corruptly obtained by the judge through his son.
“The witness evidence did not link the first defendant to the BMW car. He does not link Ademide as an agent in which the car was given to his father. Once this is not so, there is no need to proceed. No evidence that the car was corruptly given and receive. Count 9 did not establish any prima facies case. The count is therefore struck out and
the defendants discharged”, the court held.
On count 10 which has to do with the recovery of monies in about four different currencies in Justice Ademola’s house, the court held that the evidence of the prosecution witness does not show that the money mentioned in the count were received by the judge illegally.
“The prosecution witness had inter alia said that no complaints as to such money was received. He also admitted that judges who travel abroad can be paid in foreign currency. No evidence to show that the money is gratification. The prosecution witness admitted that estacode are paid to judges in foreign currency. And they can convert it to any
currency they want. A judge can change the currency or keep it at home. The prosecution contradicted itself in the evidence given. Nothing remains for the first defendant to prove. No reasonable tribunal will ask the defendant to put up defense on this count. It is therefore struck out, the defendant discharged.
On count 11 and 12 which deals with transfer of N85million and N90million to one Dan Parker account and same alleged to be illegal proceed, Justice Okeke held that by the allegation of the prosecution, the first defendant spent money above his income.
“There is nothing showing that the transfer was illegal. The prosecution witness had admitted inter alia that the proceeds was from the sales of properties belonging to Justice Ademola’s grandfather. Prosecution Witness did not testify to any illegality. Witness also admitted that estacode paid to judge is his money and they are obtained in dollars. Investment by a judge cannot be included in the pay roll. Witness agreed that the judge had been in active practice of law before becoming a judge. It is not out of place to benefit from the inheritances of the father. Prosecution Witness admitted that the the judge is a beneficiary of the father’s estate. The witness also
admitted that the judge has another source of income apart from the salary. The prosecution failed to disclose the illegitimate means of the money, the prosecution also failed to show other lawful means of income. Every judge is not a church mouse, despite living a humble life. The court does not consider that there is evidence to prove that
the payment of N85million and N90million was from illegitimate means. Counts 11 and 12 struck out and the defendants are discharged.
On Count 13 which alleged request for N25 million gratification from one Sanni Teidi, the court noted that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove that it is the judge and no one else that requested for the said gratification.
“The law does not talk about an agent. The witness did not mention Justice Ademola’s name but one Kingsley O. None of them show any extra judicial contact with them. The prosecution has not proved a prima facie evidence. The prosecution became more hopeless because they did not prove that Kingsley O. was acting for the judge. The court cannot act on that. Prosecution failed to establish prima facie case. The count is hereby dismissed and the defendant discharged.”
The court noted that count 14 is a repetition of count 9 adding that the facts being one and same, “No prima facie evidence. The count is dismissed and the defendant discharged”.
On count 15 which alleged illegal possession of firearms, the court held that the prosecution framed the charge that the defendant possessed the firearms without a licence.
“The witness admitted that two licences were recovered from Justice Ademola. One bears Ademola’s name and the other Justice A.R Mohammed. Prosecution Witness did not state the section of the law that says that it is only the President that can approve the possession of such firearms. From the foregoing testimony, witness did not show that the licence of the gun was expired. Having due consideration to the submissions, the clause ‘without valid licence’ renders it invalid. The charge which include possession without valid licence is contradictory to the firearms Act. The charge is inconsistent with armed robbery Act. Count 15 is thereby struck out the defendant discharged”.