Justice R.I.B Adebiyi of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja on Monday sentenced Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN to 30 days imprisonment over attempt to pervert the cause of justice.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC had alleged that Nwobike offered N750,000 and N300,000 gratifications to Justices Mohammed Yunusa and Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court respectively.
The commission in a 15 count amended charge claimed that Nwobike offered the two judges money to allegedly perverting the course of justice.
He was also alleged to have make false statement to the EFCC in the course of their investigation.
Delivering judge on the matter, Justice Adebiyi found Nwobike guilty of twelve count out of the 18 count allegations brought against him and sentenced him to 30 days imprisonment on the 18 counts.
The judge held that Nwobike deliberately attempt to pervert the cause of justice by sending text message to a judicial official with instruction to influence the assignment of several cases to Justice Yunusa.
Justice noted that Nwobike conviction should send a signal about the seriousness of the government to fight corruption.
She observed that Nwobike was obviously motivated by the zeal for success and the will to succeed at all cost.
In considering the plea for leniency by Nwobike’s lawyer, Wale Akoni, SAN, Justice Adebiyi stated that Nwobike being a senior advocate has brought shame to the legal profession.
She however stated that in sentencing the defendant, the court considered his no previous criminal record, his comportment in court and other factors in reducing the 2 years prescribed jail term to 30 days in prison.
The EFCC had alleged that Nwobike at several occasions sent text messages to one Jide, a Federal High Court official with instruction to ensure certain case he filed should be assigned to a specific judge.
Although Justice Adebiyi held that there was no concrete evidence by the EFCC to prove the more serious offence of perversion of justice, she held the the fact the 6 out of the 10 cases which Nwobike requested to be assigned, were successfully assigned to the judge he wanted, showed a deliberate attempt to pervert the cause of justice.
” It is curious that 6 out of the 10 cases filed were assigned as suggested by the defendant to Jide inspite of the fact the he is not an assigning authority. In proving the ingredient of attempt to pervert justice, act must be immediately connected to an attempt. From the evidence before me, it is clear that the defendant attempted the cause of justice. He is accordingly convicted ,” she held
On the allegation of offering gratification to Justice Yunusa and other judges with the aim of influencing his the outcome of his cases, the judge held that EFCC failed to prove that the N750,000 given to Justice Yunusa actually influenced any case before the judge.
The judge also held that the EFCC failed to prove the allegation that the defendant gave false information to its official during the cause of their invesigation.