The trial of the Federal High Court judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, continued yesterday with the cross-examination of the 16th prosecution witness, Babatunde Adepoju.
Justice Ademola is standing trial alongside his wife, Olabowale and Joe Agi (SAN), over allegation of receipt of gratification and illegal possession of fire arms.
Adepoju, an operative of the State Security Service (SSS), admitted before the Federal Capital Territory High Court that in the course of his investigation, he discovered the payment of N500, 000 made by one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyers in support of Justice Ademola’s family during the wedding ceremony of their daughter.
He noted that although the money, which was paid by Kola Awodehin was made at a time Buhari’s certificate saga was pending before Justice Ademola, such could however not be taken for a bribe.“By giving a wedding gift to Ademola, was President Buhari bribing Justice Ademola in order to win the certificate suit pending before him? Asked Agi’s counsel, Jeph Ejinkoye. The witness however answered in the negative.
Consequently, he admitted that it was also in his opinion, a mere speculation to state that because the third defendant was handling some cases before the first defendant, the monetary gift of N30 million sent through him to Ken Hubert and Basey Bassey should be taken for a bribe.
On the allegation that Senator Ahmed Tinubu had influenced the appointment of Mrs. Olabowale Ademola, the witness stated that his position was based on an earlier allegation made against her. But as and when asked if he investigated the allegation, the witness said he did not.
He further admitted that he was aware that Mrs. Ademola was the most senior permanent secretary in the Lagos State Civil Service.
He was also asked if anybody has laid claim to the money allegedly found at the residence of Justice Ademola, or if anybody has come up to say that he gave such money to Justice Ademola as a bribe. He said ‘No’.
Still led in cross-examination by the counsel to the third defendant, Jeph Ejinkoye, the witness was taken on the allegation of bribery to influence the release of Colonel Sambo Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu on bail.
The witness again admitted before the court that he was aware that the Federal Government did not only agree in the open court that the offense was bail-able, it also did not oppose the bail applications made on behalf of the two.
Speaking specifically on Kanu, he told the court that he was aware the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB) was earlier granted bail by a Magistrate court.
On the petition by one Jenkins Gwede against the first defendant, he admitted knowledge of the fact that the petitioner withdrew the petition on the ground that the allegations were false.
Gwede was said to have petitioned National Judicial Council (NJC) against Justice Ademola on April 2, 2016 but withdrew the same on April 4 – two days after.
The defense later tendered a true certified copy of letter by Jenkins withdrawing his petition. It was admitted in evidence and marked exhibit HHH.
On the alleged N30 million bribe through the wife of Justice Ademola, the witness also recanted on his earlier position that the sum would have been paid to influence the first defendant in the case involving Friday Ukpong vs Chief of Naval Staff.
He told the court that there would not have been any correlation between the lodgements and the case as their dates were far separated from each other.