By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Jane Echewodo
lagos—A Lagos State high Court sitting in Ikeja, yesterday, sentenced a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Dr. Joseph Nwobike to one month imprisonment for perverting the course of justice.
Nwobike, was however, discharged and acquitted of five charges.
The SAN, who appeared in court in a blue suit, was accompanied by sympathizers to the detention camp, within the court premises, in preparation for prison.
In her judgement, Justice Raliat Adebiyi found Nwobike guilty and subsequently sentenced him to 30 days in prison to serve concurrently.
Justice Adebiyi said the level of culpability of the defendant over a period of time was high, hence, she held that the sentence was to denounce the unlawful conduct.
The judge said: “The message to the society is that no one is above the law. The court however grants a light sentence. He is hereby sentence to 1 month of 30 days.”
The sentence according to the Judge, was without the option of fine and was meant to serve as deterrent to others.
Meanwhile, when she convicted Nwobike, she said out of 18 counts charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, he (convict) perverted the cause of justice amidst corruption charge of offering gratification to a public officer: Honourable Justice Mohammed Nasir Yinusa, by sending him a text message with an instruction to influence the assignment of several cases.
He was however, not found guilty of giving false information to the EFCC.
According to the trial judge, “ At the conclusion of the judgment, the defendant, Joseph Nwobike, is found guilty of the offence under Section 64 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No. 11 of 2011.n He is discharged of count 1 and 2… Not found guilty of 4 and on 5 and 6, he is discharged and acquitted. He is also not guilty of the 18th count.”
However he was found guilty of counts 3, 7, 8, 9, 10-17 of the amended charges against him.
The reading of the judgement commenced at 9:35 a.m and ended before 3p.m.
The convict was arraigned on amended information on an 18-count charge bordering on offering bribe to a judge and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
In his defence at the trial, he admitted giving N750,000 to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court but said that the money was to assist in the treatment of the judge’s mother, who had kidney related disease.
According to one of the counts, “You Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN, on the 28th day of March 2015, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, intentionally gave the sum of N750,000 to Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa of the Federal High Court directly through your United Bank for Africa Account No. 1002664061 in order that the said Judge refrains from acting in the exercise of his official duties and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 64 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No. 11 of 2011.”
Another of the counts read: “That you Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN,on the 19th day of March, 2015 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, intentionally gave the sum of N 750,000.00 to Hon. Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa of the Federal High Court directly through your United Bank for Africa Plc Account No.1002664061 in order that the said Judge acts in the exercise of his official duties.
“That you Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN on the 28th day of September, 2015 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, intentionally gave the sum of N 300,000 to Hon. Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa of the Federal High Court indirectly through Awa Ajia Nigeria Limited’s account No. 0000971931 domiciled in Access Bank PLC belonging to Hon. Justice Nganjiwa Hyeladzira Ajiya of the Federal High Court in order that Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa acts in the exercise of his official duties”
Nwobike was part of the teams that conducted Wiwa versus Shell and Re: Semira Adamu vs. Government of Belgium.
Dr. Joseph Nwobike was sworn in as a Notary Public for Nigeria in 1999 and sworn – in as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN in the 2009 set.
His lawyer, Mr. Wale Akoni while pleading on behalf of his client, sought for a non-custodial sentence, noting that the convict had a lot to offer to the society and that he was a first time offender.
He pleaded the judge to temper justice with mercy.
But EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, quickly explained that the convict’s conduct did not attract such.
He said: “Section 97 (3) under which you, my Lord have found the defendant guilty specified for imprisonment for two years. We urge your lordship to serve as deterrent to young lawyers, the SANs and other senior members of the Bar.
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