A principal witness for the Economy and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Barrister Peter Eze on Thursday told the court that the erstwhile Chief Judge of Enugu State, Honourable Justice, Innocent Azubuike Umezuluike, breached both the judicial and public service codes of conduct and ethics by accepting gift from a litigant in a case pending before him.
Umezuluike is standing trial before Justice A.O. Onovo of the Federal High Court, Enugu on charges of corruption.
“It was clearly evident that the defendant was biased in handling a case between Prince Arthur Eze, who donated N10m to the retired Judge during his book launch through Diamond Bank account in 2014″, said Eze while being led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu.
Cross examination of the principal witness, Bar. Peter Eze continues Friday.
The Federal Government on July 15, 2017, arraigned the former Chief Judge of Enugu State on one count bordering on alleged corruption.
Umezulike, who was sacked by the National Judicial Council in September 2016 after he was investigated and found guilty of abuse of office, was arraigned for allegedly using his office as CJ to “confer corrupt or unfair advantage” on himself, contrary to section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, Laws of the Federation, 2000.
Specifically, Umezulike was accused of accepting a donation of N10m from a litigant in a case that was pending before his court.
The alleged litigant was identified as Prince Arthur Eze, a businessman.
According to his charge sheet, Umezulike had allegedly invited Eze to the launch of his book, titled, ‘ABC of Contemporary Land Law in Nigeria,’ where “Eze donated N10m”.
The former Chief Judge pleaded not guilty to the charge.
He was granted bail in the sum of N1m on self-recognisance by the court, which was presided over by Justice Onovo.
The charge sheet identified the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the complainant and Innocent Azubuike Umezulike as the defendant.