A senior lawyer, Joseph Nwobike, has narrated how he transferred N750, 000 to a serving federal judge, Justice Nasiru Yinusa, saying the money was to help the judge pay for his mother’s medical treatment, and not to bribe him.
Mr. Nwobike said this Wednesday at his ongoing corruption trial before an Ikeja division of the Lagos State High Court.
An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission witness, Daniel Danladi, had on March 29 told the court that the funds transferred by the lawyer into the bank account of a serving judge were meant for purposes which included a library upgrade.
Danladi, an operative of the EFCC, said during cross-examination that the money was not meant to pervert the course of justice. He had also said that the defendant confirmed to the EFCC that the N750, 000 was for the treatment of Justice Yunusa’s mother and the judge also confirmed same to the commission.
Nwobike is facing trial for allegedly offering gratification to judges. The judges’ names include Mohammed Yinusa, H.A Ngajiwa, and Musa Kurya of the Federal High Court; and James Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court.
Testifying during his trial on Wednesday, Nwobike said he could “recollect doing a few cases against the EFCC and I came back from court one day and received a call from a fellow who described himself as an officer of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and introduced himself as Zakari.
“I remember cross examining him in a case involving my client and the EFCC. He said I should find time and come to the office to clarify some issues and he did not tell me what the issue was,” said the senior lawyer.
Nwobike further said, “When I came to the office 30 minutes thereafter, he brought a document, which I discovered was a statement of account of Joseph Nwobike and Co. firm with UBA. He showed me an entry of transfer of N750, 000 from the account of Joseph Nwobike and Co. to one Justice Yinusa.”
According to the senior lawyer, he had known Justice Yinusa from his days as a staff of the Federal Ministry of Justice and had become friends.
“I saw him one day and he told me his mother was ill and had dialysis and was afraid that she would die, that he had spent over N250, 000 weekly on the illness. I felt pity not because he was a judge, but because he had been my friend for 19 years. He gave me his account details that day.
“When I had some money, in my own signature, I transferred the sum of N750, 000 only to his account for that purpose,” said Mr. Nwobike.
In his witness statement, Mr. Nwobike also told the court that he had never at any time given any other money to Justice Yinusa and had never discussed any official matter whether in relation to cases or any other official matter with Mr. Yinusa whether before or after the money was given to him.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the matter to July 3 and 4, for continuation of trial on the understanding that the defence would close his case on July 4.
If that fails, another date will be fixed before the end of the legal year.