SaharaReporters has learned that at least five Nigerian high court judges are the subjects of extensive corruption probes by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The five justices identified as the targets of the corruption investigation are Abdul Kafarati, Gladys Olotu, Aliyu Liman, Ibironke Harrison, and Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
In addition, our sources at the EFCC said that Justice Chioma Nwosu- Iheme of the Federal Court of Appeal and a former Chief Judge of Lagos State, Inumidun Akande, are also caught in the cross-hairs of the investigations into what one source described as “mindboggling corruption in the judiciary.”
A case file seen by SaharaReporters revealed that Justice Abdul Kafarati owns huge cash assets in several bank accounts, including one at Diamond Bank. In addition, he reportedly owns properties, shares and farmlands in Kwami in Gombe State.
Gladys Olotu, also a judge of the Federal High Court, is being investigated for owning several accounts in Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank, First Bank (United Kingdom), as well as significant stock in various companies. She is also reported to own several properties in Abuja, Lagos and Benin. A source said Ms. Olotu is believed to be worth more than N2 billion in cash, going by findings by EFCC and other investigators.
Justice Aliyu M. Liman is being investigated for owning various naira and domiciliary accounts, shares and properties in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Kaduna States.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia reportedly owns an apartment in London, with a high-priced Mercedes Benz car parked on the property for her use whenever she visits the UK.
According to our EFCC sources, Justice Iheme-Nwosu has accumulated so much unexplained wealth that she was able to buy the Concorde Hotel in Owerri, the Imo State capital, as well as a mansion-like residence built near Concorde Hotel and reportedly worth N500 million.
Our sources said that the investigation into Justice Ibironke Harrison’s questionable assets has been completed. The probe focused on a property fraud said to be worth at least N150 million. One source revealed that the fraud was detected before Ms. Harrison was made a judge, adding that her involvement in the illicit scheme had been established to a high degree of certainty. “We are confident that we can make a case for her guilt beyond any reasonable doubt,” one judicial source familiar with her file told SaharaReporters.
SaharaReporters also learnt that the investigation of former Chief Judge of Lagos, Inumidun Akande, had also been completed. The fraud case relates to the judge’s diversion of massive amounts of funds meant for the Lagos judiciary during her tenure as chief judge. She is also accused of enriching herself to the tune of N700 million from funds stolen from the Lagos State judiciary.
A senior EFCC official told our correspondent that the investigations into the criminal conduct of all the judges targeted for probe had either been concluded or reached advanced stages. However, the source added that the commission’s chair, Ibrahim Lamorde, was dilly-dallying instead of approving the commencement of prosecution.
“I can tell you that we are at the stage where we can charge the affected judges to court, but the Chairman of the EFCC Ibrahim Lamorde has not given us a go-ahead for the judges to be arrested and charged for corruption.”