Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:18 am
Brewing controversies over recent arrests of some judges by Department of State Services, DSS over allegations of corruption about two weeks ago deepened on Tuesday in Abuja.
The first drama was at the Federal High Court, Abuja where Justice Adeniyi Ademola, one of the arrested judges withdrew from presiding over the illegal arms possession and money laundering suit involving former Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, NSA Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd)
The Judge said he was withdrawing from the trial following his arrest by the DSS over allegations that he received a bribe from the defendant.
However, just before he withdrew from the case, Justice Ademola had conducted a sort of question and answer session with Dasuki during which he asked the defendants to confirm whether he has ever offered him any sort of gratification.
The biggest story of the day related to DSS arrest of the Judges was however from the highest court of the land- the Supreme Court.
Justice Inyang Okoro, one of the two judges of the apex Court arrested by the DSS had in a letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria not only attempted to defend himself against being involved in any sort of corrupt dealings, he attributed his travails to his failure to help Nigeria’s Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi achieving his aim of installing a member of All Progressives Congress, APC as the governor of Akwa Ibom State.
According to him, Amaechi, a former Governor of Rivers State, had visited him on February 1, 2016 asking him to ensure that the candidate of the All Progressive Congress in the April 2015 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Umana Umana, must win all of his appeals.
In the four-page letter which was also copied to the National Judicial Council, Justice Okoro said that Amaechi told him during the visit that he sponsored the Akwa Ibom governorship candidate and should he lose the elections, he, Amaechi would have lost a fortune.
He further alleged that the Minister had told him that he had spoken with the Chief Justice of Nigeria to include him (Justice Okoro) in the panel to hear the appeal and that the said Umana Umana also visited him, making the same request.
The Judge, who described the allegations of corruption against him by the DSS as pack of lies said in the letter dated October 17, 2016 and addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, “I strongly believe that my travail is not unconnected with the verbal report I made to you on 1st February, 2016 about the visit to my official residence by H/E Rotimi Amaechi, former Governor of Rivers State and now Minister of Transportation.
“In that report, I told you my Lord, that Mr. Amaechi said the President of Nigeria and the All Progressives Congress mandated him to inform me that they must win their election appeals in Rivers State, Akwa Ibom and Abia State at all costs.”
He added that though he rejected the request and even opted out of the panel that heard appeal of Akwa Ibom governorship appeal, the former Governor of Rivers State believed that he still engineered APC’s loss of the appeal.
On the $24,000 and 10,000 euro found in his house during the raid by the DSS, Justice Okoro said the funds were the unspent portion of his travel and medical allowances accumulated for the three years he has been in the Supreme Court.
Justice Okoro, a blatant lier
But in a swift response, Amaechi described the claims of Justice Okoro in the petition as concocted lies.
In a press release issued on Tuesday evening in response to the claims in the petition of Justice Okoro, Amaechi said, “This accusation from Justice Okoro against Amaechi is a figment of his imagination, concocted to obfuscate and politicize the real issues for his arrest and DSS investigation of allegations of corruption against him.
“The claims by Justice Okoro against Amaechi are blatant lies, bereft of any iota of truth or even logic. Amaechi did not, and has never approached Justice Okoro in respect of the cases Okoro mentioned or any other case.
“This is a cheap attempt, albeit, political move to drag the name of Amaechi into something he knows nothing about. Justice Okoro should face his issues and leave Amaechi out of it.
“He will be hearing from our lawyers.”