By Moji Eniola
A staff of First Bank, Solomon Akhanolu, testifying at the ongoing corruption trial of Justice James Agbadu-Fishim revealed on Friday that some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) made deposits of various sums into Agbadu-Fishim’s bank accounts.
The trial is taking place at an Ikeja High Court in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Agbadu-fishim of the Lagos Division of the National Industrial Court, is facing 19-counts of unlawful enrichment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He is alleged to have illegally received N4.4 million from seven SANs, a lawyer and a law firm from 2013 to 2015.
The seven SANs accused of unlawfully enriching the judge are Felix Fagbohungbe, Paul Usoro, Uche Obi, Muiz Banire, Adeniyi Akintola Gani Adetola Kazeem and Joseph Nwobike.
Agbadu-Fishim is also alleged to have received funds from a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Enobong Etteh and Alliance Law Firm.
While being led in evidence by Mr Wahab Shittu, the lead prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Akhanolu said: “I am employed by First Bank of Nigeria as a forensic officer and by Nov. 3, 2017, I would be in the bank’s employment for eight years.
“My primary duty is to act as an intermediary between the bank and law enforcement agencies. On Oct. 13, 2016, I received a letter from the EFCC requesting for some bank account documents of James Agbadu-Fishim.
“There are three accounts namely, 3008199491, 2006900326 and 0009508696 respectively, belonging to Mr Agbadu-Fishim James,” he said.
Flipping through bank documents, the forensic officer gave a detailed account of how various sums were deposited by some members of the bar into Agbadu-Fishim’s accounts.
“From the information generated from account number 300819491, on Dec. 5, 2013, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN) made a deposit of N200, 000. On Dec. 19, 2014, a deposit of N250, 000 was made by Fagbohungbe.
“On Feb. 26, 2015, another deposit of N250, 000 was made by the same Fagbohungbe and on Aug. 7, 2014, a deposit of N250, 000 was also made by Fagbohungbe.
“On March 25, 2015, a cash deposit of N200, 000 was done by Mr Paul Usoro (SAN) and on March 26, 2015, Usoro also made another deposit of N200, 000.
“On Oct. 24, 2014, a cash deposit of N200, 000 was made by Mr Enobong Etteh and on Feb. 10, 2015, there was a fund transfer of N100, 000 from Mr Adetola Kazeem (SAN).”
Akhanolu in his testimony gave further details of various deposits made by lawyers into 2006900216, a second First Bank account, which is also in the name of the judge.
“On Oct. 17, 2013, a cash deposit of N150, 000 was made by Mr Uche Obi (SAN); on Dec. 20, 2013, Obi made a deposit of N100, 000.
“Dr Muiz Banire (SAN) paid N500, 000 into the account on June 20, 2013.
“On July 1, 2013, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) made a deposit of N200,000 and on Dec. 29, 2014, Dr Joseph Nwobike (SAN) deposited N100,000,” the forensic officer revealed.
While being cross-examined by Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN), the lead defence counsel for Agbadu-Fishim, Akhanolu affirmed the authenticity of the bank documents.
“I can vouch for the authenticity of these documents because they were generated by the systems of First Bank and the information was gotten from the inflow and outflow of transactions by customers.
“The bank did not have any problem with these accounts and entries up until the EFCC required them and the bank never reported these transactions to the EFCC.
“I personally don’t know the persons who made these deposits and I also don’t know the purposes for which the deposits were made,” Akhanolu said.
After Akhanolu’s testimony, Shittu told the court that the EFCC had 20 prosecuting witnesses, who were to testify against the judge in the case.
“We will be requesting for a short adjournment because we will be calling 20 witnesses to testify as shown in the proof of evidence and we are interested in fast-tracking the proceedings,” Shittu said.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until Nov. 23, Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 13, 14 and 15 for continuation of trial.