Justice Mohammed Yunusa

An Ikeja Special Offenses Court has dismissed the corruption charges brought against Justice Mohammed Yunusa, a judge of the Federal High Court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Sherifat Solebo on Tuesday expunged Yunusa’s name from the corruption charges filed against him by the anti-graft agency.

The trial judge took the action via a ruling after she was informed by Yinusa’s defence counsel, I.B. Mohammed that the embattled former judge had been exonerated following a review of the allegations by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Yunusa was facing trial alongside Esther Agbo, an employee of the law firm of Rickey Tarfa and Co law firm. He had been suspended from the Federal High Court pending the outcome of the trial at the High Court.

They were being tried on a nine-count charge of attempt to pervert course of justice, corruption by public official, use of office or position for gratification in the sum of N2.2 million.

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During Tuesday’s proceedings, Mohammed informed the court that he had filed two letters before the court and that the letters have also been served on the prosecution.

The letters are NJC Exoneration Letter dated Dec. 23, 2020, which was signed by the Deputy Chairman of NJC, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour and a Lifting of Suspension letter dated Jan. 11 which was signed by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho.

The EFCC counsel, Mr Wahab Shittu did not oppose the tendering of the letters which were admitted by the court following which the embattled judge’s name was expunged from the charges.

In view of the new development, Shittu requested that the court allows the EFCC re-arraign Agbo, Yunusa’s former co-defendant on an amended charge.

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The request was granted and Agbo pleaded not guilty to a fresh four-count charge brought against her by the EFCC.

The prosecution subsequently opened the trial and called on the eleventh witness, Mr Zakari Usman, an EFCC investigator.

Usman informed the court that anti-graft agency had received a petition against a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Rickey Tarfa and commenced an investigation into the corruption allegations contained in the petition.

The witness stated that in the course of the investigation his team stumbled upon on a call log between Tarfa and Yunusa who was a serving judge at the time.

He noted that it was discovered that there were various financial transactions between Tarfa and Yunusa.

He said that one of the transactions was carried out by Agbo, an employee of Tarfa’s law firm into through Yunusa United Bank of Africa (UBA) account.

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Usman said that a convicted former SAN, Mr Joseph Nwobike had also carried out financial transactions into the judge’s account.

While being cross-examined by Agbo’s defence counsel, Mr John Odubela, SAN, Usman said that the EFCC statement of Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa was what had “nailed” Agbo on the corruption allegations.

Odubela thereafter asked for an adjournment to enable the EFCC witness provide the Nganjiwa’s statement before the court.

Justice Solebo adjourned the case until Jan.27 for continuation of trial.