BY SAHARAREPORTERS, NEW YORK
Agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) currently investigating cases of judicial corruption have told SaharaReporters that their review of banking and other financial documents discovered that Muiz Banire, the National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC), paid N500, 000 to one of the judges under investigation.
EFCC agents said their forensic scrutiny of some judges’ bank accounts revealed suspicious payments made to numerous federal judges, including the one made by Mr. Banire.
The agents disclosed that several of the judges have been questioned by the anti-corruption agency. They added that some of the answers provided by the judges were at odds with bank statements where investigators detected a series of suspicious transactions involving senior lawyers.
Yesterday EFCC agents invited three of the lawyers to the agency’s offices for questioning. Our sources revealed that the agency has scheduled at least 25 more lawyers to come in for interrogation in relation to the active investigation.
Among Federal justices who have so far been questioned are Uwani Abba-Aji of the Appeals Court, James Agbadu-Fishim of the Industrial Court, Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court, Nganjiwa Hyledzira of the Federal High Court, and Musa Kurya of the Federal High Court. Another Federal High Court judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, was traced to a Lagos clinic where she falsely claimed she was admitted before she turned herself in last weekend.
Mr. Banire has not been invited by the EFCC and SaharaReporters could not confirm if and when he would be summoned. However, three senior lawyers grilled yesterday included Paul Usoro, a lawyer to Senate President Bukola Saraki, Gani Adetola-Kaseem, and Felix Fagbohungbe. Mr. Usoro allegedly made five deposits into the account of the James Agbadu-Fishim of the Industrial Court.
EFCC agents disclosed that, when asked why he made the deposits, Mr. Usoro claimed they were for four burials in the judge’s family, naming the deceased as the judge’s father, mother, mother-in-law, and father-in-law. He reportedly told EFCC agents that the fifth payment was to support the judge in any future funeral activity in the judge’s family.
Investigators told SaharaReporters that Mr. Fagbohungbe cooperated with the investigators until he was asked to read his statement before its formal adoption by investigators. He reportedly requested for more paper, and while investigators went to fetch the paper, he reportedly crossed out his initial statement and attempted to destroy it before it was wrested from him.
EFCC investigators say they would likely arraign three of the judges next Wednesday. They revealed that the case files of Justices Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, Mohammed Yunusa, and James Agbadu-Fishim were ready for trial.
Meanwhile, a senior lawyer, Niyi Akintola, has denied information circulating in the media that he was summoned by the EFCC regarding allegations that he bribed some judges. He denied involvement in any cases of bribery of judges, and insisted that EFCC agents had yet to invite him. He added that he was not involved in defending any judges before the National Judicial Council.