The Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has sentenced a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, to one month imprisonment for perversion of the course of justice.
The court, which convicted Nwobike of 12 counts bordering on the offence, sentenced him to one month imprisonment on each of the 12 counts but said the sentences would run concurrently.
Justice Raliat Adebiyi, who pronounced the verdict on Monday morning, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) proved beyond reasonable doubts that the SAN was in constant communication with court officials to influence the assignment of his cases to his preferred judges.
The maximum penalty on each count of perverting justice is two years jail term but the judge used her discretion and refused to punish the lawyer with the maximum penalty allowed.
“The defendant is hereby sentenced to one month of 30 days on each count for attempting to pervert the course of justice,” Mrs Adebiyi said after reading out a judgment which lasted over two hours.
The judge said she handed down the sentence to Mr Nwobike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, to serve as a deterrent to others.
Nwobike’s conviction came amidst ongoing trials of fellow senior lawyers – Godwin Obla and Rickey Tarfa – over similar offences before federal and state courts.
The judges, who also allegedly received the gratification from the lawyers, are also facing criminal prosecution by the EFCC.
Mr Nwobike was first arraigned in March 2016 on a five count charge; but the charges were amended twice to 18 counts of offering gratification to a judicial officer, attempting to pervert the course of justice, and making false declaration to an EFCC officer.
According to the EFCC, Mr Nwobike paid N750,000 into the United Bank for Africa account of Mohammed Yunusa, a federal judge, and N250,000 to one Ronke Ogunleye, a registrar to another federal judge, Musa Kurya.
The commission said the payments were intended to pervert the course of justice.
More details later…