The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today at the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja charged Justice James Agbabu-Fishim, a judge of the National Industrial Court (NIC), with 19 counts of unlawful enrichment of about N3.5 million.
The commission alleged that Justice Fishim received the sum, which was paid into his First Bank account between 2013 and 2015, by eight lawyers, including seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), and one law firm.
Detailing the charges, the EFCC said he received:
N1.15m from Chief Felix Fagbohungbe between December 5, 2013 and February 26, 2015;
N700,000 in multiples tranches from Paul Usoro between August 5, 2014 and March 26, 2015;
N100,000 on February 10, 2015 from Chief Gani Adetola-Kazeem;
N250,000 from Uche Obi, between October 17 and 20, 2013;
N500,000 from Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), on June 20, 2013;
N300,000, from Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) in two tranches of N200,000 and N100,000 on June 3, 2013 and February 26, 2015;
N250,000 from Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN) in tranches of N150,000 and N100,000 on December 12, 2014 and September 10, 2015 respectively; and
N200,000 from a Lagos-based lawyer, Enobong Etteh on October 27, 2014.
Among others, count 12 reads; “That you Hon. Justice James Agbabu-Fishim on or about the 21st day of August 2015 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, being a Judge of the National Industrial Court enriched yourself with the sum of N250,000.00 (one hundred fifty thousand naira) from Alliance Law Firm through your account No. No. 2006900216 domiciled in First Bank Plc so as to have a significant increase in your assets that you cannot reasonably explain the increase in relation to your lawful income.”
The anti-graft agency said the judge acted contrary to Section 82 (a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No.11, 2011, but he pleaded not guilty to all the offenses.
His counsel, Prof. Abiodun Amuda Kannike (SAN), urged the court to grant his client bail on self-recognizance being a sitting judge of the NIC.
“The defendant is a judge at the national industrial court and was only served yesterday,” he said. “I myself had to travel overnight because I could not get a flight to Lagos at the time I got the brief. The defendant cannot jump bail as he is a well-known person. I urge the court to grant him bail on self-recognizance.”
The prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, did not oppose the bail application but urge the presiding judge, Justice Raliatu Adebiyi, to impose conditions that would mandate the defendant to appear for trial.
With no opposition against Mr. Fishim’s bail application, Justice Adebiyi held that there was no fact before the court to deny bail, noting that the offense with which he is charged is a bailable offense.
She, therefore, granted him bail on self-recognizance but ordered him to deposit his passport with the registrar of the court to ensure he remains within the jurisdiction throughout the trial.
The trial will take place between October 11 and 13.
Source: Sahara Reporters