The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has got a major lead into how a judge under its investigation obtained N18 million from the Managing Director of a leading oil and gas company to buy a house in London while still serving as a Federal High Court judge.
The anti-graft agency stumbled on the fresh lead while interrogating Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, one of the six judges being probed over alleged corrupt practices, while serving in the Temple of Justice. The judge, who turned in herself to EFCC for questioning last week, and is undergoing routine questioning by security agents over suspected cash receipts, admitted that she actually got the said N18 million as a soft loan from a ‘family friend’ who happened to be a major player in the downstream sector of the Nigerian oil industry, with a view to buying a house in the United Kingdom.
A top source, who confirmed the discovery of the amount in the course of investigating the judge, said the amount was wired to a foreign account from the judge’s domiciliary account for the purchase of a property in the UK.
The agency did not, however, disclose the location of the property in the UK, apparently not to hinder investigation. But to get the truth about the ‘loan’ allegedly granted the judge by the oil tycoon, the EFCC last night began questioning of MD of the firm.
The man was at the office of the commission last night and it was not clear if he would be released as at the time of filing this report. A top EFCC source told Vanguard that the money was transferred by the businessman to Justice Ajumogobia’s account in 2012, pointing out that there was no paper to indicate that it was a loan, as claimed by her.
The source said: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has uncovered yet another bogus financial transaction by one of the six judges under investigation, Justice Rita Ngozi Ofili-Ajumogobia.
“The Commission stumbled on the N18 million wired to a foreign account from her domiciliary account for the purchase of a property in the United Kingdom.
“Justice Ajumogobia owned up to the money but claimed it was a loan obtained privately from a family friend.
“The ‘family friend’, who is Chairman of an Oil and Gas Company from where the funds emanated, has been invited by the commission for questioning. So far, he has told operatives that the money was an assistance he rendered to her.”