Alex Enumah in Abuja
A prosecution witness, Hajiya Fatimah Shuaibu, in the ongoing trial of Justice Adeniyi Ademola, his wife and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joe Agi, yesterday told an Abuja Federal High Court that she was compelled to petition the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the continued detention of her husband.
Ademola, his wife, Olubowale, and Agi are standing trial over allegations of offering and receipt of gratification and possession of fire-arms.
The witness, the seventh to be called by the prosecution so far, is wife to the former Director, Pension Department, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Shuaibu S. Teidi.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, Shuaibu who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Segun Jegede, told the court that the stringent bail condition granted by Justice Ademola who was then hearing the case of embezzlement of pension fund against her husband, compelled her to write a petition to the NJC.
She added that she was further compelled when Ademola refused to vary the condition.
“I wrote the first one when he did not grant my husband bail, and I wrote a follow up when he refused to approve for variation of bail conditions,” she stated.
The witness had alleged that she received several calls and text messages from unknown persons, demanding N25 million bribe from her.
According to her, one of the persons later identified himself as Kingsley O, whom she saw once at Wuse Market and he asked her to bring that ‘stuff’ “as tomorrow was the court day.
“He calls to tell me what will happen in court the next day. I thereby concluded that he might be relating with the judge. Or how would he know what is happening in court?.” She asked.
She added: “He said when my husband gets to court the next day, rain will fall on his file and the judge will not be sitting. That was when I concluded that he was speaking for the judge.”
Speaking further, the witness said the Court of Appeal in its judgment on the said ‘stringent bail condition’, had frowned at the bail condition and held that the judge was bias.
“They consequently gave a bail condition of N100 million and one surety,” she said.
However, during cross-examination, when the witness was taken on her earlier statement about the Court of Appeal’s judgment where Justice Ademola was described as bias in his ruling on Shuaibu Teidi’s bail, she could not show where the Appeal Court actually said that.
Rather, she admitted that the word ‘bias’ was not used in the judgment and that it was a slip of her tongue.
On her petition to NJC, she was asked if she ever wrote to NJC, asking for the report or outcome of panel since she claimed not to be aware of the outcome of the investigation into her petition. She said she did not.
In another development, the defence also told her that those demanding N25 million bribe from her husband went to meet her husband in detention.
She equally denied knowledge of it but she was confronted with her earlier statement in the office of Department of State Services (DSS), where she stated that “those demanding bribe from my husband visited him in prison as visitors and well-wishers.”
On her earlier claim that unknown person followed her about over the alleged bribe, the witness stated that she did not report the matter to the police or the DSS.
“Even the alleged threat in the market was also not reported to the police. Rather, you ran to your house for safety? Defence counsel asked. “That was why I ran to NJC,” the witness responded.
On the outcome of the investigation on her petition, the witness was presented with the conclusion of the panel’s findings, marked, Exhibit G. Before the court, she read out the concluding aspect in part: “The complaints were unmeritorious and nothing has emerged from the judge as having compromised his office. The complaints are hereby dismissed.”
She, however, declined to admit the fact that NJC dismissed the petition.
Responding to other questions from the defence team, the witness also told the court that she could not produce the call logs or the alleged text messages to back her claim as the phone was misplaced.
The matter has been adjourned till February 8, 9 and 10 for continuation of trial.