By Andrea Fernandes
LAGOS, Nigeria -- In an indictment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria against embattled justice of the Federal High Court, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, prosecutors are claiming (among other things) that Ofili-Ajumogobia had influenced the Nigeria Maritime Administration (NIMASA) to hand over monies to the Texila American University in Guyana for the benefit of her daughter Aridim Tochukwu (Ajumogobia) who had presented a letter of admission from the controversial university to NIMASA.
Prosecutors are adamant that the degree program that NIMASA had paid for would not be of any benefit to Nigeria, and was done as part of a wider money laundering scheme for which Ofili-Ajumogobia was arrested.
Her daughter for whom the monies were allegedly transferred to Texila is also now under investigation and her passport has been taken by Nigerian authorities.
In an exhibited letter to NIMASA on the court case files, the judge’s daughter is quoted as saying, “I recently secured admission to study the Direct MD Masters Programme (MBBS) at Texila American University, Georgetown, Guyana.”
She had added, “I would be grateful if you would kindly approve my study leave with pay for the attendant period at Texila American University. If above is approved, also consider favourably, approval of disbursing my tuition and accommodation fees to the institution.”
Investigators said that on November 21, 2014, Ofili-Ajumogobia acted as her daughter’s guarantor and signed a bond promising that she will return to the employment of NIMASA after the completion of her studies in September 2018.
No proper due diligence was done by NIMASA as it related to Texila American University, or even by the judge herself.
While that may seem amiss, Nigerian prosecutors are more interested in the monies that were allegedly paid from NIMASA’s account for a degree program at Texila that may not be of any value to Nigeria
It is understood that financial crimes prosecutors are trying to ascertain how much money was actually handed over to Texila, since they intend to recover it from the institution under Nigeria’s Anti-money laundering laws.
According to the indictment, there is evidence that an initial sum of US$9,800 for tuition fees, plus US$7,200 was demanded from Aridim Tochukwu by Texila American University.
The Guyana Guardian
was unable immediately to confirm with Nigeria’s EFCC when and how the payments were made, but a source with access to the case file suggested that the monies were most likely wired to Texila from Aridim’s UK account.
Aridim’s mother faces a total of 30 financial crimes charges, with the Texila University particulars forming a small fraction of the various facts that prosecutors intend to present to the court.
All of the matters are being prosecuted by Segun Jegede, who is a former prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Republished with permission of the Guyana Guardian