Full Detail: How Court clears Justice Ademola, wife of Corruption Charges

A FCT High
Court in Maitama, has dismissed the 18-count criminal charges brought by the
Federal Government against Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court,
his wife, Mrs. Tolulope Olabowale, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joe
Agi.


The three
defendants were discharged and acquitted from the criminal charges on the
ground that the prosecution did not prove a prima facie case against them.
Justice Jude
Okeke, in a ruling on the no-case submission made by the defendants, held that
the criminal charges against them were highly speculative and without iota of
merit.
The judge,
who reviewed the 18-counts, one after the other, said that the conspiracy
charge in count one was not established against Justice Ademola, his wife and
the senior lawyer, who was charged along with the couple.
Contrary to
the provision of the law, Justice Okeke said that the prosecution did not in
any way prove the ingredients of conspiracy against the defendants as it failed
to establish where they met and conspired to commit any crime.
On the
alleged N30 million gratification found in the account of Mrs. Olabowale and
said to have been donated by a group of lawyers during her daughter’s wedding ceremony,
the judge said that the prosecution failed woefully to establish that the
donations by the lawyers was meant to influence cases before Justice Ademola,
if at all there is any.
The judge
said that a witness of the prosecution made it clear to the court that there
was no evidence linking the donation for the marriage ceremony to influence any
matter before the first defendant, hence, the judge dismissed the charge on the
ground that the prosecution failed to discharge the burden of proof on it.
“From
the evidence of prosecution witnesses 8 and 9, it was made categorically clear
that the prosecution did not prove that the N30 million was not a donation to
the 1st and 2nd defendants in the charge, hence, the charge cannot be
sustained”
“This
court has no choice than to agree with the 16th prosecution witness that it
would be speculative to view the N30 million as gratification,” the judge
held.
The judge
therefore dismissed count 3, 4 and 5, which bordered on the receipt of
gratification in the charge.
On the BMW
car said to have been delivered to Ademide Ademola, a son of Justice Ademola,
the Abuja High Court judge said that from the beginning to the end of the
transaction that led to the delivery of the car, the prosecution did not
establish any link to prove that Ademide Ademola negotiated in any way on
behalf of the 1st defendant.
Justice
Okeke said that count 9 is bereft of evidence against Justice Ademola because
there was no iota of evidence, both oral and written, that the vehicle in
question was meant for the judge as all documentary evidence, including the
invoice pointed to the fact that Ademide negotiated for the car and was even
delivered to him in his house, a fact not disputed by the prosecution.
On the
foreign currencies found in the house of Justice Ademola, Justice Okeke held
that the prosecution failed to establish against the first defendant that he
acquired the money through unlawful acts and that none of the prosecution
witnesses, who testified on the charge was able to prove that the money was
acquired through fraudulent means as required by law.
The judge
said that the charge had to be resolved in favour of the first defendant in
view of the glaring inability of the prosecution to prove a prima facie case
against the defendant.
Justice
Okeke also resolved the charge on unlawful possession of firearms in favor of
Justice Ademola on the same ground of the failure of the prosecution to
maintain the charge with any reliable evidence.
Justice
Okeke said that he believed the evidence of Justice Ademola that the two guns
found in his house belonged to him and another judge of the Federal High Court,
A. R. Mohammed, having tendered before the court and without contradiction from
the prosecution, the letters approving and releasing the two guns to them on
different dates by the appropriate authority.
The judge
said that he disbelieved the claim of the prosecution that the two judges have
no requisite licences to operate the guns, adding that the prosecution who had
initially stood its ground that there were no licences, suddenly somersaulted
when the licences were tendered by the defendants and that the allegation of
the prosecution was changed completely to the fact that the licences were not
tendered on time.
The court
held that there was no evidence that the prosecution ever demanded from the
defendants to produce the licences and that when provided and admitted by the
court, the allegation of the prosecution became a empty.
Apart from
tendering the letters of authority releasing the gun to him, Justice Ademola
went a step further to tender the operational licence for the gun, hence, the
charge on the unlawful possession of firearms crumbled like the previous ones.
In all,
Justice Okeke said that the prosecution failed to establish prima facie case
against the three defendants by the failure to provide evidence to link them
with the alleged offenses and consequently dismissed the 18-count charges
against the defendants, discharged and acquitted them from the alleged
offenses.
It would be
recalled that a no-case submission was made by the defendants, after the
prosecution had closed its case against them on February 21, stressing that
there was no need to enter defense.
Counsel to
Justice Ademola, Onyechi Ikpeazu, at the March 15 sitting of the court,
maintained that there was no evidence to further sustain the case.
On the count
of acceptance of gratification, the counsel had argued that the evidence of
Prosecution Witness 16, Babatunde Adepoju, who is an operative of State
Security Service (SSS), had adequately proved otherwise.
Ikpeazu
noted that he was the witness that carried out investigation on the defendants,
and he had told the court that he could not link the alleged gratification with
any case handled by Justice Ademola.
In his
argument, counsel to Mrs. Ademola, Chief Robert Clerk (SAN), noted that his
client was charged with conspiracy, an offense that was not recognised under
the Penal Code.
On the
statement that she fraudulently enriched the first defendant, the counsel
expressed surprise that the word ‘conspiracy’ could be attached to a man, who
was alleged to have committed an offense.
He had
argued that the prosecution should establish the case or cases for which the
money was allegedly paid as inducement.
According to
him, no single witness had testified to have given the amount as bribe, neither
did any of them point to any monetary transfer from the accounts of second or
third defendants to that of the first defendant.
Counsel to
the third defendant (Agi), Jeph Ejinkonye, had urged the court to take another
look at the account of prosecution witnesses to see if there was any need for
his client to enter defense.
The PW 16,
Adepoju, had admitted that it would be mere speculation to say that the gift
given to the first defendant by President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyer was a
bribe.
Based on the
above statement by PW 16, Ejinkonye had urged the court to uphold the
no-case-submission and strike out the case.
But the
prosecution counsel, Segun Jegede, had opposed the no-case-submission,
insisting that the defendants have enough case to answer.
The counsel
believed that the witnesses actually established enough primae facie that money
was paid by the third defendant into the account of the second defendant in
March 2015.


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