The ongoing trial of Joseph Nwobike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), before Justice Raliat Adebiyi of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja continued Friday July 21, 2017, with the prosecution confronting him with various text messages he sent to a court official in order to influence the cases he was handling.
Nwobike is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on 11 counts bordering on perverting the court of justice and offering gratification to public officials.
One of the counts reads: “That you Nwobike, on the 19th day of March, 2015 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, intentionally gave the sum of N750, 000 to Hon. Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa of the Federal High Court directly through your United Bank for Africa Plc Account No.1002664061 in order that the said Judge acts in the exercise of his official duties.
Another count reads: “That on the 28th day of September, 2015 in Lagos within the jurisdiction, you intentionally gave the sum of N300, 000 to Hon. Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa of the Federal High Court indirectly through Awa Ajia Nigeria Limited’s account No. 0000971931 domiciled in Access Bank Plc, belonging to Hon. Justice Nganjiwa Hyeladzira Ajiya of the Federal High Court, in order that the Hon. Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa acts in the exercise of his official duties.”
At the resumed hearing today, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, tendered a compact disc marked exhibit P21 containing text messages from Nwobike’s mobile phone to a court official.
In the compact disk, which was played on a projector mounted within the court room, Oyedepo told the court how Nwobike had sent text messages, at various times, to one Jide, a Deputy Registrar with the Federal High Court, Lagos.
He told the court that Nwobike admitted to have received and read a message from Jide on September 23, 2014, saying, “Kuya may not resume yet”.
Oyedepo also told the court that Nwobike admitted to have sent another text message to Mr. Jide, saying, “Suit No FHC/L/CS/1133/2014: (1) Dana Group of Companies Plc (2) Dana Drugs Ltd (3) Dana Impex Ltd Vs (1) Sterling Bank Plc (2) Mr. Kunle Ogunba, SAN (3) Corporate Affairs Commission (4) Chief Registrar of Tiles, Lagos State.
In his response, Nwobike claimed that he knew Jide works at the Federal High Court in administrative capacity.
Nwobike also confirmed that though he had appeared before Justice Kuya, he has never seen Jide call cases in his( Kuya) court.
“I cannot say that some of the matters he filed on September 23, 2014 were assigned to Justice Yinusa.
“I can’t really say which judge presided over all these suits, but the one Kunle Ogunba, SAN, filed went to Justice Yinusa,” he told the court.
Also, Nwobike confirmed that he sent a text message, which read “Please, help me”, to Jide on June 30, 2014 in a suit: “FHC/L/CS/1009/14 Lanre Olaoluwa and Federal Ministry of Power and Steel. Yinusa J very well (sic)”.
The learned silk further confirmed to the court that on June 30, 2014, his chambers paid the sum of N56, 040 (Fifty-six Thousand, Forty Naira) for filing the suit, which was assigned to Justice Yinusa.
When asked if he knew Justice Yinusa’s signature, he answered in the affirmative, saying, “I am familiar with Justice Yinusa’s signature because he had signed different judgments.”
The defendant also confirmed that he forwarded another text message to Jide on July 9, 2014, where he wrote: “NESTLE VS FIRS FHC/L/CS/940/201 Yinusa. Thanks”.
Oyedepo further told the court about a number of suits that the defendant confirmed to have emanated from his chambers.
According to him, “On June 26, 2014, he sent the details of a suit to Mr. Jide, who replied that “940/14 is already there. I did it last week”
Oyedepo told the court that Nwobike sent another text message to Jide, where he wrote: “Suit No. FHC/L/CS/347/14 between Professor Emmanuel Adegbeyeni & 6 Ors Vs Mr. Biodun Agbaje & 15 Ors (sic)”.
“It was eventually assigned to Justice Yinusa,” Oyedepo added.
In his response, Nwobike told the court that he had no relationship with Justice Yinusa, adding that “I have never been his very close friend or very close enemy.”
Oyedepo also told the court that Nwobike received a text message from Jide on November 3, 2013, where he ( Jide) said : “Remind me about this case tomorrow morning FHC/I/CS/960/13” to which Nwobike replied: “Thanks, my dear brother. I will do that.”
The prosecution also mentioned that Nwobike had, on November 1, 2013, sent a text to Jide, saying, “Premier Plant Leasing Nig Ltd Vs Diamond Suit No FHC/CS/960/2013 writ dated and filed on 9th July 2013 Kurya please my Bro. Nwobike”.
“It was also assigned to Justice Kurya,” Oyedepo told the court.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case to July 26, 2017 for continuation of trial.