Admin l Friday, August 26, 2022
IKEJA, Lagos, Nigeria – Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of Special Offences Court, Ikeja on Thursday sentenced a lawyer, Taiwo Oreagba, to two years imprisonment for soliciting four million Naira bribe.
Justice Taiwo convicted Oreagba, who once represented Naira Marley, following a two-year trial. Oreagba was originally arraigned for the alleged offence by the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) on November 12, 2020, before Justice Sherifat Solebo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.
She pleaded not guilty to a two-count charge bordering on alleged corrupt demand and obtaining the N4m by false pretence. At that time, Oreagba counsel to one Kelechi Uka – who was under investigation by the EFCC) – was alleged to have collected the N4 million from one Henry Umoh supposedly to influence EFCC agents to secure Uka’s release. Uka is standing trial on offences relating to stealing at the Lagos State High Court.
Oreagba was accused of committing the offence on or about the 2nd day of March 2020 in Lagos, whilst acting as Umoh’s counsel. Following the defendant’s plea, she was granted bail and the trial commenced.
But, during trial, Justice Solebo recused herself from hearing the case and it was sent back to the Chief Judge for reassignment. The case was then assigned to Justice Taiwo. Oreagba was re-arraigned on the two counts and the trial commenced before Justice Taiwo in October 2022.
The prosecution called five witnesses and tendered the audio recording where the defendant was heard bragging that she could get her clients a soft landing by giving EFCC officers, Sini Oma John, Femi Olukinni and their team part of the N4,000,000 to influence the said officers.
The said Kelechi Uka is being prosecuted by the EFCC at the Ikeja High Court. During the trial, Umoh narrated how Oreagba convinced him to part with the money. He said she never issued a receipt.
Umoh who testified as Prosecution Witness (PW) 2 testified that the money the defendant allegedly demanded from him was not her professional fees, but money she purported would be given and was given to EFCC officers.
Sini Oma John and Femi Olukinni whom Oreagba mentioned in the audio, also denied that they had any discussion with Oreagba about a soft landing for Uka. They also insisted that they did not receive any money from her, contrary to Oreagba’s comments in the audio recording.
Oreagba testified alone. At the close of the prosecution’s case, the defence led by Mahmood Adesina (SAN), entered a “no case” submission, arguing that the money was Oreagba’s professional fees.
In her judgment, Justice Taiwo observed that Oreagba did not challenge the content of the voice recording. The judge sentenced Oreagba to two years imprisonment for the offence of corrupt demand by a person.
However, noting that the convict had restituted the N4m to her victim, Justice Taiwo gave Oreagba an option of a N500,000 fine. The judge discharged Oreagba on the second count of obtaìninng money by false pretence.
Justice Taiwo condemned the convict’s boast that she could influence law enforcement officers and that she could influence the assignment of cases to judges in the Lagos State Judiciary.