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Judgesgate scandal: Justice Ademola demands bribe from pension fraud suspect, Teidi

*NJC absolved the judge of the allegations of the Teidis – witness

Federal High Court judge, Adeniyi Ademola, continued his prosecution trial on Wednesday at a high court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, with the seventh prosecution witness giving her testimony.

Mr. Ademola and his wife, Olubowale, are facing trial for alleged fraud and abuse of office, alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joe Agi.

Justice Ademola, was accused of collecting gratification including money from a former director of finance and accounts, office the Accountant General of the Federation, Shuaibu Teidi, who was a pension fraud suspect before his court, to the tune of N25 million.

Mr. Teidi, who had appeared on Tuesday as the 6th prosecution witness, told the court that Mr. Ademola had through his agents threatened him (Teidi) to pay the sum of N25 million, in order to be granted bail when he was charged before Mr. Ademola’s court for pension fraud.

He also said Mr. Ademola, while presiding the case, confiscated his properties without due recourse to law. Under cross-examination, the former director who headed the pension office in the Head of Service told the court that he tried without success to collect a copy of the court order confiscating his property, but was denied by Mr. Ademola.

Mr. Teidi’s wife, Fatima, who appeared as the seventh prosecution witness, told the court during examination that she concluded that there was a link between the person demanding for money from them and the judge because the caller always knew the next date of hearing on her husband’s matter.

She also told the court that the caller had told her that failure on her part to cooperate would result in the messing up of her husband’s case files before Mr. Ademola’s court, so that the judge would become unable to attend to the case.

When asked to identify the person whose name had been given as the one making the request for the N25 million, Mrs. Teidi said she met with the person (Kingsley O) at the Wuse market.

During cross-examination, she read through her statement to the SSS where she stated that the only persons she met were men between 25 to 30 years old who ran away when she attempted to scream at the market.

Mrs. Teidi also told the court that the phone with which she received calls and sms from the Kingsley, when her husband was in prison, was missing.

She said she did not mention Kingsley to the SSS because she was not asked about him. She also said she did not include Kingsley’s name in the petition written to the NJC in March 2014.

Mrs. Teidi had also told the court during examination that her husband and his family approached the Appeal Court when Mr. Ademola refused their application for variation of bail conditions.

She said the appellate court frowned at what she described as the stringent conditions for bail given to her husband, adding that the court above said Mr. Ademola was biased.

When a copy of the Appeal Court ruling was given to her, however, to clarify the allegation of bias; the witness who concluded her testimony on Wednesday, said her earlier position was merely her interpretation of the ruling.

How the NJC absolved Adeniyi of the allegations:  An official of the National Judicial Council, Mr. Eugene Odukwu, said before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, that a petition accusing a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, was dismissed by the council.

Odokwu, who is the Director of Administration of the NJC, said this while appearing as the fourth prosecution witness in the ongoing joint trial of Justice Ademola; his wife, Olabowale and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joe Agi, on charges bordering mainly on receiving of gratification.

The said petition in question was sent to the NJC, by a former Director, Pension Accounts Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Sani Shaibu Teidi, alleging that Justice Ademola demanded N25m as bribe from him while standing trial before the judge in 2013.

The petition was signed by Teidi’s wife, Fatimah.

Teidi’s trial before Justice Ademola in 2013 had to do with his (Teidi’s) alleged involvement in pension scam.

It was alleged in the petition sent to the NJC that Justice Ademola attempted to obtain N25m as gratification from Teidi as condition for granting him bail in the course of the trial.

Following the raid on Justice Ademola’s residence by the operatives of the Department of State Services on October 7, 2016, the Federal Government filed 16 counts bordering mainly on receiving of gratifications, against the judge, his wife and Agi.

In one of the 16 counts preferred against the defendants, Justice Ademola was accused of attempting to receive gratification from Teidi.

The NJC official, Odokwu appeared in court as the fourth prosecution witness to tender documents in the custody of the council on Wednesday.

The witness tendered among others, the Certified True Copy of the proceedings of the council on the petition and the CTC of the report of the NJC in respect of its findings on Teidi’s allegation.

He responded “yes” when asked under cross-examination by Agi’s lawyer, Mr. Jeph Njikonye, that the petition on Teidi’s allegation had been dismissed by the NJC.

Also at the Wednesday’s proceedings, a Deputy Chief Registrar of the Litigation Department of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Mrs. Christine Ende, appeared as the fifth prosecution witness called upon to tender documents in the court’s custody.

The documents she tendered were in relation to the suit with number ABJ/CR/82/2013.

They were the CTCs of the charge, the amended charge, the motion for bail, ruling on bail application, motion for variation of bail conditions, and ruling refusing variation of bail conditions with respect to Teidi’s case.

Earlier, a former legal assistant to Justice Ademola, Mrs. Ojima Etuh, had also, under cross-examination, confirmed that the petition on Teidi’s allegation was dismissed by the NJC.

Etuh, who appeared in court as the third prosecution witness had maintained that she neither received nor laundered gratification for the judge.

Narrating how she knew Agi, Etuh said she knew the senior lawyer as Justice Ademola’s lawyer who had in the past defended the judge at the NJC.

Under cross-examination by Agi’s counsel (Njikonye), the witness confirmed that it was a petition by Teidi’s wife that was the subject of the case in Agi defended the judge  before the NJC.

She added that when she was invited by the DSS, she told the interrogators that she did not know any case of  gratification between the judge and Agi.

She also said she never received any gratification on behalf of Justice Ademola.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Segun Jegede’s attempt to call the sixth prosecution witness was objected to by defence lawyers on Wednesday.

The defence lawyers argued that the witness, one Malik Olatunde, an official of Guaranty Trust Bank, could not begin his testimony while his written statement made to the DSS had not been made available to the defence.

The trial judge is Justice Jude.

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