The corruption trial of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia before the Federal High Court in Lagos was stalled on Monday due to an application by the defence for a change of trial judge.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is facing charges of unlawful enrichment and receipt of gratification alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Godwin Obla.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which is prosecuting the case, alleged that while sitting as a judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia received a total of $793,800 in gratification from different sources between 2012 and 2015.
It accused Obla of offering Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia N5m while having a case before the judge.
At the resumed proceedings before Justice Rilwan Aikawa on Monday, Obla’s lawyer, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), said his client had applied to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, for a change of judge in the case.
Orbih said his client wrote two different letters, dated November 14 and 26, 2019, and he was still awaiting the response of the Chief Judge to his request.
Orbih urged Justice Aikawa to suspend proceedings in the case pending the response of the CJ to the letters.
But the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Yusuf Buhari, opposed the prayer for an adjournment, saying the business of the day was continuation of trial and he had witnesses in court to testify.
However, in a short ruling, Justice Aikawa said he would grant the requested adjournment in the interest of justice.
“Because of the nature of the application, it might be better to wait for the CJ’s response.
“I am aware of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, but in the interest of justice, it will be better to wait for the CJ’s response. Transparency demands that we wait,” Justice Aikawa ruled.
He then adjourned the case till February 6, 2020
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