The Federal Government has added some prosecution witnesses against a judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, and his wife, Olubolade, following Wednesday’s amendment of the gratification charges preferred against them last December.
With Wednesday’s amendment, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joe Agi, whom the prosecution accused of giving N30m and a BMW car worth N8.5m to Justice Ademola as gratification, has been joined as a defendant.
It also increased the number of counts from nine to 16.
The three defendants pleaded not guilty to all the 16 counts when read to them before Justice Jude Okeke of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, on Wednesday.
The charges were only read to the defendants after an application by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Segun Jegede, for leave to amend the old charges was granted by Justice Okeke.
In the fresh list of witnesses, accompanying the amended charges, the prosecution named 14 witnesses to be called against the three defendants.
The Executive Secretary of the National Judicial Council and the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court are among the 14 proposed prosecution witnesses
The specific names of the occupants of both the offices of the Executive Secretary of the NJC and the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court were not given.
Also listed as one of the prosecution witnesses is a former Director, Pension Accounts Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Sani Teidi, who stood trial before Justice Ademola at the Federal High Court, Abuja in 2013.
The others include Teidi’s wife, Fatimah, and one of the ex-director’s associates, one Prince Faboro.
The rest are operatives of the Department of State Services and five officials of Guaranty Trust Bank and Zenith Bank Plc.
The prosecution proposed in the document attached to the amended charges that Teidi, his wife and Faboro would give evidence in support of the charges on how Justice Ademola allegedly attempted to obtain N25m gratification from him (Teidi) while being prosecuted before the judge in 2013.
He had raised similar allegation against Justice Ademola in a petition earlier written by his wife to the NJC.
Teidi’s trial, which has to do with his alleged involvement in pension scam, has since been transferred to another judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Teidi’s allegation to the effect that Justice Ademola attempted to obtain N25m as gratification from him constitutes a count among the 16 preferred against the defendants.
One of the major fresh counts added to the old set of charges is that Justice Ademola allegedly held the sums of N54m, $171,779, €4,400 £80 and R1,010 “being gratification received in the exercise of your official functions as a judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria.”
The sums of money were allegedly found in the judge’s house during the raid by the operatives of the DSS on October 7, 2016.
The prosecution accused the judge of “holding” the sums of money as “gratification contrary to Section 24 of the Corrupt Practices and other related offences Act 2000 and punishable under the same section of the Act.”
Justice Ademola and his wife were initially arraigned on December 13, 2016, on nine counts.
They were, shortly after pleading not guilty to the charges, granted bail worth N100m in self-recognisance.
The two, along with Agi, again pleaded not guilty to all the amended 16 counts when read to them on Wednesday.
The court on Wednesday, thereafter, fixed January 16 (Monday) for the commencement of trial.
Before the adjournment and following an application by their lawyer, Chief Solomon Akuna (SAN), Justice Okeke allowed Justice Ademola and his wife to continue to enjoy the N100m bail earlier granted them after they were initially arraigned on December 13, 2015.
The judge also granted the bail application argued on Wednesday by Agi’s lawyer, Mr. Jeph Njikonye.
He granted bail to Agi in the sum of N50m, which is to be guaranteed by his self-recognisance.
In addition, the judge also ordered Agi to deposit his passport and other travelling documents with the Assistant Chief Registrar of the court.
The prosecuting counsel, Jegede, did not oppose both applications by the defence lawyers but urged Justice Okeke to order Agi to deposit his passport with the court as a way of ensuring that the defendant attends his trial.
As in the old set of charges, Justice Ademola and his wife were accused in the fresh counts of conspiracy of receiving gratification and receiving gratification of N30m from Joe Agi and Associates, between March 11 and March 26, 2015.