Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr Joseph Nwobike, yesterday told a Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja that he gave Justice Mohammed Yinusa of the Federal High Court N750,000 to assist him to settle his mother’s medical bills and nit to bribe him.
Nwobike said this while testifying in his own behalf in a case of allegedly perverting the course of justice and offering gratification to public officials brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The senior lawyers also told the trial judge, Justice Justice Raliatu Adebiyi that he never gave any other sum apart from the N750,000 he gave to Justice Yinusa and that he never discussed any of the cases he was handling before the judge with him.
The EFCC had on March 9, 2016 arraigned Nwobike on allegations that he gave the sums of N750,000 and N300,000 to Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa of the Federal High Court to influence the judge to pervert the course of justice.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail on self recognizance by the court.
While being led in evidence by his lawyer, Olawale Akoni (SAN), Nwobike told the court that since he was called to the Nigerian Bar, he has never been a respondent to any form of complaint or been a party to any disciplinary proceeding before anybody constituted for that purpose.
He said, “On a particular day, I came back from court and received a phone call from a fellow who described himself an official of the EFCC.
“He introduced himself as Mr Zakari and I recollected that in the past, I had cross-examined him in a case involving my client and the EFCC.
“He (Zakari) said I should come to his office to clarify an issue. I went to the EFCC thinking that the issue has to do with my client and the EFCC.
“Thirty minutes after I arrived at the EFCC office and met him, he showed me a document which I found out was a UBA statement of account of Nwobike and Co.
“He showed me an entry where there was a transfer of the sum of N750,000 from the account of Joseph Nwobike and Co. to the bank account of Justice Mohammed Yinusa.
“Zakari requested that I put in writing the reasons for that transfer.
“In my statement, I said I knew Justice Yinusa for quite a long time back when he was a counsel at the Federal Ministry of Justice and we became friends as lawyers.
“On one occasion, I saw him by chance and he told me that his mother was ill and was undergoing dialysis and he feared that she will die soon and N250,000 was spent daily on her treatment,” he said.
“I pitied him not as a judge but because he had been my friend for over 19 years. I told him that I had no money on me but I will send money when I had some money.
“He gave me his account details and we parted.
“When I had some money, in my own signature, I transferred N750,000 only for that purpose.
“I saw him again by chance and he told me that his mother was getting better but I later found out that she died because she could not continue with the dialysis.”
“As in practice, I do not discuss cases with judges or persons in authority. I do not discuss matters before, during and after they are heard.
“The money I gave the judge was not to make him refrain from acting in his official capacity.”
Justice Adebiyi adjourned the case until July 3 for continuation of trial.