Corruption: MTN, UBA staff testify in dismissed Justice’s trial
Two prosecution witnesses of EFCC on Monday testified at before Ikeja Special Offences Court in the ongoing trial of a dismissed judge of the Federal High Court, Lagos, Justice Mohammed Yunusa.
Mr Adekunle Ogunbadejo, a staff of MTN Communications and Mr Robinson Imafidon of UBA, testified to prove the anti-graft agency’s allegations of corruption against the embattled judge.
Yunusa is standing trial alongside Esther Agbo, a staff of the law chambers of Mr Rickey Tarfa (SAN).
The dismissed judge is facing a four-count charge of attempted perversion of the course of justice and corruption by a public official.
Agbo is facing a charge of offering gratification to a public official.
According to the EFCC, Yunusa had constant and confidential communications with Tarfa, who was handling three lawsuits marked FHC/L/CS/714/2015, FHC/L/CS/715/2015 and FHC/L/CS/716/2015 before him.
The anti-graft agency also alleged that Yunusa collected N1.5 million bribe from Tarfa for the purpose of giving favourable rulings and judgments in the cases.
The judge is also being accused of receiving N750, 000 from Mr Joseph Nwobike (SAN), between March 2015 and September 2015, to get “favourable” judgment in some cases.
“Agbo, the second defendant, who is an employee of Rickey Tarfa and Co., on May 14, 2015, paid the N1.5 million allegedly from Tarfa into Yunusa’s UBA account number 1005055617,” the anti-graft agency said.
It said the offences violated Sections 64(1) (a) and 97(3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
Testifying, Ogunbadejo, a Fraud Analyst with MTN Communications and the first prosecution witness for the EFCC, revealed to the court the call logs between the judge and Tarfa.
Led in evidence by Mr Wahab Shittu, the Lead Prosecuting Counsel for the EFCC, said: “The log contains the records of two numbers which belong to Rickey Mustapha Tarfa and Mohammed Nasir Yunusa.
“There were several calls made between these numbers.”
Shittu’s attempt to make Ogunbadejo testify about his statement on oath made to the EFCC was, however, opposed by Mr Robert Clarke (SAN), defence counsel to Yunusa and Mr John Odubela, Agbo’s defence counsel.
The objection was on the grounds that it was not served on their team as part of the proof of evidence which should be forwarded to the defence.
The Presiding judge, Justice Sherifat Solebo, upheld the objection, saying, “in view of the tardiness of the prosecution and lack of proof of service of the statement to the defence, it is hereby marked rejected.”
While being cross-examined by Clarke, Ogunbadejo admitted that he was not privy to the content of the phone conversations between the judge and Mr Rickey Tarfa (SAN).
“We (MTN) do not give cloned sim cards; we do not keep records of verbal communications.
“We do not keep the content of text messages; we are not privy to conversations between the two parties,” the MTN Fraud Analyst said.
Also, Imafidon, testifying as the second prosecution witness and the Head of Regulatory Laison at UBA, told the court that in 2016 following the EFCC’s request, UBA provided the statement of account of the judge to the anti-graft agency.
“The owner of the account is Mohammed Nasir Yunusa. On March 18, 2015, there was a transfer of N750,000 from Joseph Nwobike (SAN) and Co.
“On May 14, 2015, there was a cash deposit into the account of N1.5 million by Agbo Esther,” he said.
Under cross-examination by Clarke, Imafidon admitted that he was not aware of the purpose of the bank transaction.
“I do not know the reason for the transfer by Esther Agbo,” Imafidon said.
Earlier, during proceedings, Justice Solebo, in a short ruling, admitted into evidence, a letter from the MTN which was certified by the EFCC.
At the last court proceedings on July 4, the defence had opposed the admissibility of the letter on the grounds that the anti-graft agency could not certify a document from MTN.
In the ruling, Justice Solebo noted that the letter, which certified the MTN call logs, was retrieved during investigations by the anti-graft agency.
The judge held that the EFCC had legally certified the document.
The case was adjourned until Oct. 23 for continuation of trial.