The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday finally arraigned Justice James Agbadu Fishim of the National Industrial Court before an Ikeja High Court over allegation of corruption.
The judge was arraigned before Justice Raliat Adebiyi on a 19-count charge bordering on unlawful enrichment by public official contrary to Section 82(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No.11, 2011
He, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was granted bail on self-recognisance as prayed by his counsel, Prof. A Amuda Kannike (SAN) on the grounds that his client is a sitting judge.
â€œHe was served last Monday at 5p.m., and he responded immediately.
â€œHe is a sitting judge and has a lot to lose if he decides to jump bail,â€ Kannike said.
While not opposing the oral application for bail by the defence counsel, EFCC Prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, however asked the court to condition the bail so that the defendant would be mandated to attend trial.
Justice Adebiyi in granting the judge bail, asked him to deposit his international passport with the court Registrar.
â€œIt is the discretion of the court to grant bail to the defendant. It should be noted that the main function of bail is so that the defendant attends trial.
â€œThe defendant is a sitting judge of the National Industrial Court, who is facing a 19-count charge of unlawful enrichment which is a bailable offence.
â€œI hereby grant the defendant bail on self recognizance and he is also expected to deposit his international passport with the Chief Registrar of the court,â€ Justice Adebiyi ruled.
According to EFCC, Justice Fishim unlawful enriched himself by receiving an aggregate of N4.6 million from seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), one other Lagos-based lawyer and one law firm between 2013 and 2015.
EFCC maintained that the defendant could not give a reasonable explanation of how the monies passed through his First Bank account with numbers 3008199491 and 2006900216.
The commission alleged that Justice Fishim received a total of N1.4 million from Chief Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN) between December 5, 2013, and February 26, 2015.
The defendant was also accused of receiving a total of N1.4 million in multiples tranches from Paul Usoro (SAN) between August 5, 2014 and March 26, 2015.
Other SANs from whom the judge allegedly received money, were Chief Gani Adetola-Kazeem, who gave him N100,000 on February 10, 2015 and Mr. Uche Obi, who gave him N250,000 between October 17 and 20, 2013.
Others are: Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), who according to the EFCC, gave the judge N500,000 on June 20, 2013; and Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), who gave him a total of N500,000 in four tranches of N200,000, N100,000, N100,000 and N100,000 between June and February 26, 2015 respectively.
The EFCC also claimed that Justice Fishim received a total of N250,000 from Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), in tranches of N150,000 and N100,000 on December 12, 2014, and September 10, 2015, respectively; while a Lagos-based lawyer, Enobong Etteh, was said to have transferred N200,000 to the judge on October 27, 2014.
A law firm, Alliance Law Firm, according to the EFCC, also paid N250,000 into the judgeâ€™s account on August 21, 2015.
Justice Adebiyi has fixed trial for October 11,12 and 13, 2017.