The planned arraignment of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court and his wife, Olabowale, before a High Court of the Federal High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), by the Federal government over gratification charges was yesterday stalled due to their absence in court.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola was one of the serving Judges who was arrested on October 8, 2016 by the Department of State Services (DSS).
The defendants were absent because they had not been served with the fresh charges which have been reduced from 15 to 11 counts.
Accordingly, the trial judge, Justice Jude Okeke, adjourned the matter till December 13, 2016.
But before then, counsel to the defendants’, Mr. Jeph Njikonye, volunteered to accept service on behalf of his clients.
Earlier, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Segun Jegede, had told the court that the court bailiffs attempted to serve the couple with the charges but they were said to have travelled to Lagos.
He said although, he intended to ask the court for an order for substituted service on the defendants, changed his approach since the defence counsel had volunteered to accept service on behalf of the defendants.
The prosecution counsel therefore, urged the court to grant leave to serve the defendants through their lawyer on the strength of section 382(5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
Njikonye, although, expressed readiness to accept service on behalf of his clients, said he was not aware of attempts to serve the couple personally and so section 382(5) of the ACJA was not application.
The defence lawyer however submitted that the court under its inherent powers grant the leave for service.
Justice Okeke, in his ruling, said record showed that a court bailiff attempted to serve the defendants in Abuja, on December 2, but were said to have travelled to Lagos.
The FG had earlier filed a 15 count criminal charge against them before it was later reduced to 11 counts.
The charge which was filed at an Abuja High Court was signed by Hajara Yusuf, a principal State Counsel in the fedral ministry of justice.
According to the charge, the defendants allegedly received N30 million from Messrs Joe Odey Agi Associates between 11 th and 26 th March 2015 and another N40 million between 20th and 21 February 2014.
The alleged offense was said to have been committed between February 2014 and June 2016 contrary to Section 8 of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act , 2011 and Section 115 of the Penal Code Law .
Specifically, Justice Ademola was alleged to have received N30 million from Messrs Joe Agi Associates between 11 th and 26 March 2015 and his wife also received N30 million from Messrs Joe Agi Associates.
According to the prosecution, Justice Adeniyi Ademola on 6th May 2013 received $520, 000:00 from Messrs Johnson & Johnson Solicitors and another N6 million between 25 th of February and 16 th April 2015 from Messrs Johnson & Johnson Solicitors.
Justice Ademola was also alleged to have accepted N55, 650, 000:00 from Messrs G.T. J Ademola & Co between 5 th January and 23 rd June 2016.
It was further alleged that Justice Ademola on 20th February 2014 accepted N40 million from Vertice Solutions Ltd as well as accepting another N47.6 million from Acardian Energy Services Ltd .
The prosecution further alleged that Justice Ademola on 20 February 2014 accepted accepted N34 million from Omotayo Babafemi Aliyu and N4.7 million from Lawan Suliaman between 21st February and 7th November 2014.
Justice Ademola was also alleged to have accepted N30 million from Messrs Joe Odey Agi Associates between 20th and 21 st February 2014.