Thursday, October 27, 2016 10:11 pm
By Akin Kuponiyi
There is apprehension within the legal profession as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC) today drilled more senior advocates of Nigeria who are alleged to have transferred huge sums of money to Judges’ bank accounts.
Their invitation by the anti-graft body is sequel to the recent interrogation of two Federal High court judges Justice Agbadu James Fishim and Uwani Abba Aji and another judge of the Industrial court.
A source close EFCC disclosed that Paul Usoro SAN, Chief Gabi Adetola-Kaseem SAN and Chief Felix Fagbohungbe reported at the EFCC office, Awolowo Road Ikoyi at 9:15am on today,
It was gathered that the invited lawyers are still at the EFCC office and answering questions from EFCC operatives as of the time of filling this report.
The source further disclosed that the Commission has extended invitation to another senior lawyer, Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN) but he is yet to report to the EFCC office.
Chief Akintola was said to be in Abuja to defend a Judge before the National Judicial Council (NJC) following a petition written by a litigant.
According to the source, the Chairman of the Commission was shocked that prominent senior lawyers who have affable relationship with the EFCC are involved in corruption within the judiciary. The source stated that the leadership of EFCC may have inverted the senior lawyers following accusations that the Commission was planning to cover-up the activities of these senior lawyers to preserve existing relationship.
It would be recalled that the EFCC last week drilled Justice Fishim and Justice Aji, at its headquarters to answer questions over alleged corruption. With the interrogation of the Justices Fishim and Aji, the number of judges quizzed by the EFCC has risen to five out of the eight judges on its radar. The EFCC source said: “we have discovered that corruption in the judiciary is widespread. Some Senior Advocates of Nigeria who have assisted the Commission in handling some of our cases in the past are involved. Some of these lawyers had assisted us with useful legal opinions on several matters. So, we are in a dilemma’’.
The source stated that the Commission has concluded arrangement to force another Federal High Court judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, to appear before it after she failed to honour several invitations extended to her. “If any judge refuses to honour our summons, the EFCC will have no choice than to employ legal process to make him or her respect the law of the land. We have accorded all the judges who came to the EFCC a lot of respect in line with international best practices.” It would be recalled that Justice Agbadu James Fishim and Justice Uwani Abba Aji, responded to the invitation by the EFCC as they presented themselves before operatives at the Lagos zonal office, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi accompanied by their lawyers. It was gathered that the two judges have so far made useful information to the Commission .
The author of this story Akin Kuponiyi can be reached at [email protected]