The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it made a huge discovery on the former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Innocent Azubuike Umezulike. Operatives of EFCC says it discovered N632.2 million in the former judge’s bank account, reiterating it as the reason for his involuntary retirement.
The agency also found that the lodgements of funds came from lawyers, businessmen, politicians and litigants.
Former Chief Judge Umezulike was believed to have operated the account without a Bank Verification Number (BVN) as at June 2016..
The former Chief Judge has been invited by EFCC for interrogation on January 17 on some of the shocking lodgments.
The National Judicial Council (NJC) said on September 29, 2016, it recommended, that former Chief Judge Umezulike to Governor Justice Lawrence Ugwuanyi of Enugu State for compulsory retirement for:
“Delivering judgment in a case 126 days after final addresses were adopted by parties, and for other instances of abuse of office”.
The council also found Justice Umezulike guilty of allegedly “receiving a donation of N10m from a businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, during his book launch while two cases in which Prince Eze was said to have had “vested interest”, were in the judge’s court.”
It was learnt that the ongoing probe of the judge followed petitions against him, including some sent to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
A source, said:
“From the probe of the salary account of the judge with the main branch of First Bank Plc in Enugu, our team discovered that he was operating it without a BVN as at June 2016.
“Further verification showed that he was earning N701, 726. 28 per month but he did not make any single withdrawal for 11 months.
“When we analysed an account linked to the judge, the turnover was about N396, 544.034.73 with a closing balance of N632.223.47 as at 15th of June 2016.”
“We were able to identify how lodgments were made into the account linked to Justice Umezulike. The depositors included Justice Umezulike, legal practitioners, businessmen, politicians and litigants. The judge invested most of the cash in Treasury Bills.”
There were indications that some assets identified with the judge might be seized by the EFCC, pending the conclusion of its investigation.
According to EFCC:
“Our detectives uncovered three properties allocated to the ex-CJ by the Enugu State Government. These are:
Plot H/136 Golf Phase II, Enugu allocated in 2000 but sold to Mr. J.I. Chime in 2007 who subsequently sold it to Cosmas Offia in 2008;
Block B2 Flat 16 Maryland Estate, Enugu allocated in 2012 Sold to Igwe Goddy Moore; and
Plot H/88 Gold Estate Phase I, GRA Enugu allocated in 2015 which is still in the judge’s possession.
When EFCC detectives couldn’t find the Assets Declaration Form of the ex-CJ from the Code of Conduct Bureau, they decided that the properties may end up being seized.
“We may however place the properties located so far under temporary asset forfeiture.”