Judge jails Naira Marley’s former lawyer over N4m bribe

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A Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos, on Thursday sentenced a lawyer, Taiwo Oreagba, to two years in prison for soliciting N4 million bribe.

Oluwatoyin Taiwo, the judge, however, discharged the lawyer on a second count of obtaining money by false pretence.

Ms Oreagba, who once represented the musician, Naira Marley, was convicted after a two-year trial.

She was originally arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) on 12 November, 2020, before Justice Sherifat Solebo of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja.

She pleaded not guilty to a two-count charge bordering on alleged corrupt demand and obtaining the N4 million by false pretence.

At that time, Ms Oreagba, a counsel to 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 Mr Uka’s release.

Mr Uka is standing trial on offences relating to stealing at the Lagos State High Court.

Ms Oreagba was accused of committing the offence on or about the 2nd March 2020 in Lagos.

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.

Mr 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 reprieve by giving EFCC officers, Sini Oma John, Femi Olukinni, and their team part of the N4,000,000 to influence the said officers.

During the trial, Mr Umoh narrated how Ms Oreagba convinced him to part with the money. He said she never issued a receipt.

Mr Umoh who testified as Prosecution Witness (PW) 2 testified that the money the defendant allegedly demanded from him was not her professional fees, but the money she claimed would be given to EFCC officers.

Messrs John and Olukinni, whom Ms Oreagba mentioned in the audio, also denied that they had any discussion with the lawyer about a reprieve for Mr Uka.

They also insisted that they did not receive any money from her, contrary to Ms Oreagba’s comments in the audio recording.

Ms 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 Ms Oreagba’s professional fees.

In her judgment, Justice Taiwo observed that Ms Oreagba did not challenge the content of the voice recording.

She sentenced her to two years imprisonment for the offence of corrupt demand by a person.

However, noting that the convict had restituted the N4 million to her victim, the judge gave her an option of a N500,000 fine.

The judge 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.

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