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The Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose; the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere; the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB); human rights lawyers and a host of others yesterday called for a probe into the allegations levelled against the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, by some justices of the Supreme Court.
Justices John Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta had accused the minister of attempting to bribe them to pervert the cause of justice and influence the outcome of the tribunal rulings on governorship elections of Akwa Ibom, Abia and Ekiti states.
Fayose, who is in the centre of the allegation fired the first salvo through one of his media aides, Lere Olayinka, noting that, for a justice of the apex court to have deposed to an affidavit, it means he had sworn to the truth to the best of his knowledge and ability, and that such an allegation should not be left lying low.
“Our take is that the allegation should be looked into. When is the Department of State Service (DSS) storming Amaechi’s house? When is Amaechi going to be arrested? When is President Muhammadu Buhari going to order investigation into these damning allegations?” Fayose queried.
While speaking with Saturday Telegraph yesterday through its Secretary-General, Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa, Afenifere specifically called for the suspension of both Amaechi and the judges so as to conduct a thorough investigation of the allegation that the minister wanted to pervert the cause of justice.
The septuagenarian leader said the judges and Amaechi should vacate office and face investigation if the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari must be taken seriously, saying that it would be wrong for both the judges and the minister to remain in office at the same time when they were being incestigated.
“With what is happening, it is difficult to get at the truth of matters. Even then, can there be fire without smoke? The way these people have been parading themselves shows that a lot is shrouded. When Amaechi was governor, people said he had questions to answer about his financial dealings.
“Why we don’t support the fire brigade action and clapping down on them in that manner, it can’t be said that their hands are clean especially when judges give different judgments on the same matter. There is something wrong basically.
“I agree that corruption has to be fought to a stand still and we must begin with the judges who give the judgment. Both the judges and Ameachi should vacate office in order to defend themselves. That is how to know that we are fighting corruption”, he said.
Another Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okurounmu, said the allegations against Amaechi should be investigated. Speaking in a telephone interview, Okurounmu stated that the former Rivers State governor had been overdue for prosecution over alleged corruption cases.
He said, “Amaechi has been overdue for prosecution even before this allegation by the judges because he was one of those whom the United States government forwarded their illegal lodgments in banks to Buhari even before he was made a minister. “But because he is in APC, Buhari took no action. Now that we are getting allegation even from judges, any element of doubt about Amaechi being a very corrupt man should be proved or cleared. “Some of these people should go to jail if Buhari is sincere about fighting corruption”, Okurounmu said.
A human rights lawyer, Mr. Morakinyo Ogele, said since Amaechi has no immunity, he should be investigated and if found guilty should be prosecuted. Ogele said it is an offence punishable under the law to want to bribe judges saying, “the man should not be spared because he belongs to the president’s political party”.
He however said it would be unfair for the accused to be suspended from office pending investigation. Ogele added that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) was wrong to have called for the suspension of the judges pending investigation, saying the NBA could not approbate and reprobate at the same time.

On its part, the leadership of IPOB accused President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the All Progressives Congress, (APC) of shielding the former governor insisting that the allegation of inducing the judges must be probed.
The organisation in a statement made available to Saturday Telegraph, signed by its spokesman, Emma Powerful, noted that the alleged attempt to induce judges to thwart justice was a corruption of unimaginable magnitude. “This is corruption in the highest order and the president is shielding him and others.
“The APC is bent on ruining the country, if not so, why is the government still appointing corrupt people while there are good and transparent people in Nigeria?” “Some people in APC have been alleged as a corrupt errand boys who shared money to judges to deliver cases in favour of the APC.
They are destroyers, squanders and evils that believe in any little opportunity to siphon the public funds. “The fight against corruption in Nigeria is a system where government of the day uses the agencies to torment the opposition group.
“Therefore, the government and the givers of bribe are corrupt because the law says that he who gives and he that takes bribes are both corrupt and it is dangerous for the government to still retain those corrupt people, if the government still believes in fighting corruption with high level of transparency,” the statement reads.
On his part, the executive chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Comrade Debo Adeniran, said the counterallegations being shoved down the minds of the people, following the recent ‘can of worms’ opened by the arrest of some judges are designed to distract attention from the real issues.
“Without mincing words, it validates the position that indeed, sharp practices of humongous dimensions have been and apparently continue to be perpetrated in the ‘Temple of Justice’. “The counter-allegations being put forward by Justice John Okoro for instance, betrays the reality that the existence of corruption in the judiciary is deep-seated and had been sort of institutionalized.

“Assuming without conceding that Justice Okoro is right, the fundamental question to ask is: why did he wait till when he was arrested and charged with allegations of corruption to reveal that to the legally necessary quarters and the public as a honourable Judge well schooled in law and its applications?
“And then do the counterallegations erode the gravity of the corruption crimes the judges are being judicially made to answer for? Are the counter-allegations evidencebased? “The DSS acted on an evidence-based operation, the right thinking Nigerian knows that if the DSS had not carried out the arrest of the suspected corrupt judges, Justices, like John Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta would have seen no evil, and heard no evil. “Let no frivolous counterallegations from suspects of corruption in particular hinder the very important need to cleanse the judiciary of the cockroaches, rats and mosquitoes.
Let elements that have allegations substantiate them with evidences in the law courts, in others words, nobody is above the law, and whoever the law pronounces culpable should face the constitutional consequences.
“Nigeria must move forward, the attempt to use illogical distractions to solicit public sympathy over corruption crimes is not acceptable and will fail. On all suspected corruption criminals; we once again call on all the anti-graft and law enforcement agencies be diligent and thorough in their investigations and prosecutions, just as we emphasise the need for operating within the rule of law”, CACOL said.
In the same vein, the Foundation For Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade called on the Federal Government to extend its robust fight against corruption to its political appointees. National Chairman of the group, Mr. Alaowei Cleric, in an online statement made available to Saturday Telegraph described as weighty the allegations of bribery and undue interferences against Amaechi, saying that the matter should not be swept under the carpet.
The statement reads: “The petitions written by Hon Justices John Okoro Inyang of the Supreme Court and Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court to the National Judicial Council which indicted the trio of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Minister of Transport and the Department of State Services is too weighty to be thrown overboard especially with regards to Buhari’s resolve to stamp out corruption from our body polity.
“Since the government has assured Nigerians that there is no sacred cow in its anti-corruption crusade, Buhari should prove to Nigerians that he is for nobody and for everybody. The government should set up a fact-finding committee to unearth the truth behind the allegations.
“And now that the government has declared a total war on corruption, we charge Mr. President to beam his searchlight on some of his appointees.” The group also urged the government to follow up keenly the N500m MTN bribery allegations against Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and the N270m scam against Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, noting that these scandalous dealings should not be swept under the carpet.
However, the Niger Delta Intelligence and Transparency Group (NDITG) lent its weight behind the embattled minister, saying that the bribery allegation is a sponsored conspiracy to blackmail Amaechi. The group said its investigation has revealed that top PDP officials are behind the “ongoing conspiracy being orchestrated by Justices Okoro and Ngwuta to blackmail Amaechi”.
In a press statement issued yesterday by its National Secretary, Micheal Awhawha, the group said the opposition party leaders and state executives who are envious of Ameachi were behind the separate letters written by the justices, all in a bid to tarnish the image of Ameachi. ”
Our findings revealed that it was the agenda to use the embattled Justice Okoro and Justice Ngwuta to smear the image of Ameachi. It is quite unfortunate that Justice Ngwuta in his letter laced with lies and deception unsuccessfully tried to implicate President Muhammadu Buhari, indeed, the judiciary needs urgent overhauling.
“The agenda is simple, the conspirators want to do everything possible to blackmail Amaechi by linking him to arrest and investigation of corrupt judges. But, we advise the governors of an opposition party to focus on providing good governance to their states and not attempt to waste time and resources on plots to blackmail Amaechi”.
The group further stated ” we have observed that since the Justices Okoro and Ngwuta letters were made public, Nigerians who could not be deceived by mere lies have expressed their supports for Ameachi. Infact, Justice Okoro and Justice Ngwuta have destroyed the reputation of the judiciary in Nigeria”.
“We suggest that Buhari and Ameachi should focus more on their efforts towards the repositioning Nigeria for greatness to guarantee a better country for future Nigerians”, the group noted. 

Syndicated from the New Telegrapgh

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