While ruling on the application challenging the authority of the court, Oshodi held that he had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The Counsel to Ofili-Ajumogobia, Chief Robert Clarke, filed the application dated November 27, 2018. He prayed the court to discharge and acquit his client based on the Appeal Court ruling on Nganjuwa vs FRN.
Oshodi said: “As at Monday, December 11, 2017, the EFCC was aware of the decision reached by the Court of Appeal in Nganjuwa vs FRN. As at that date, the amended information was yet to be filed and the twelfth prosecution witness was still giving evidence.
“The prosecution persisted like a bull running amok and still called two more witnesses and precious judicial time was wasted. We have not found a way in the judicial atmosphere to discipline or penalise an agency of government through fines or costs. In conclusion, the court has no jurisdiction to hear the first amended charge of February 21, 2018 of 31-counts. This suit is hereby struck out.”
It would be recalled that on January 25, 2019, the EFCC conceded that the court lacked jurisdiction based on the Appeal Court decision in Nganjuwa vs FRN. In the case, Justice Obaseki Adejumo said EFCC does not have power to investigate and prosecute serving judicial officers. He noted that a judicial officer must first be stripped of his duty before he can be charged.
The Court of Appeal judge held that serving judicial officers could only be prosecuted for offences like murder, stealing etc. done outside the discharge of their duties. He ruled that if the offence was committed in the discharge of their duties, they must first be tried by NJC.
There was however a mild drama on the court premises as the EFCC sought to apprehend Ofili-Ajumogobia after the charges were struck out.
About 10 officials of the commission approached her as she tried to leave the courtroom. On sighting them, she beat a retreat and sought the protection of the court.
When Oshodi was notified about the development, he said there was nothing he could do as “the file has been closed.”
The former judge and her husband who was with her were seen frantically making phone calls.
Obla left the premises immediately after ruling.
EFCC officials thereafter whisked Ofili-Ajumogobia away in a white Hilux van with Abuja number plate BWR 63780.
The commission in a statement said it re-arrested Ofili-Ajumogobia to prefer a fresh criminal charge against her.
It said this was in line with the decision of the Appeal Court, Lagos Division, in a case involving Justice Hyeladzira Nganjuwa, where it was stated that a judge could not be prosecuted until he or she had either been dismissed or compulsorily retired by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The EFCC said given the fact that it had presented Ofili-Ajumogobia before the NJC for disciplinary action and the NJC had taken a position, it would now approach the court to prefer fresh charges against her.
Reacting to the development, former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani Kayode said: “EFCC’s case against Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia was thrown out by Justice Oshodi of the Ikeja High Court today with harsh words. Despite this she was held hostage by the EFCC on the court premises for one hour and now she has been re-arrested and taken to their Lagos office.”
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