The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption. Itse Sagay, has lambasted two Supreme Court justices for levelling allegations of bribery against the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi.
Justices John Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, in separate letters to the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmoud Mohammed, alleged that Mr. Amaechi sought to influence their judgements in election petitions before them in favour of the All Progressives Congress.
The judges were among the seven judges arrested last month for alleged corruption by the State Security Service, SSS. They were later released and have been suspended by the National Judicial Council.
While Mr. Okoro alleged Mr. Amaechi sought to pervert justice in the governorship election disputes in Ekiti, Rivers and Ebonyi states, Mr. Ngwuta accused the minister of seeking to bribe him to get favourable judgement in Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers election petitions.
Mr. Amaechi has since denied the allegations.
Mr. Sagay said in a statement, Thursday, that the outburst by the two justices was surprising, considering that it was totally unrelated to the raids of their premises, their arrest and subsequent charges.
He said men of that status should not indulge in such diversionary activities in the midst of grave and ominous charges facing them.
“I would have thought that they would use the time at their disposal to prepare their defences against the serious charges they are facing,” Mr. Sagay said in the statement which he issued in his personal capacity.
“In any case, given their statuses as Supreme Court Justices, even in the middle of the adversity confronting them, they should not have engaged in a distraction totally incompatible with the dignity and respect that their high offices attract.
“It is demeaning for them to abandon their legitimate defence in order to smear a high official of the Buhari government, which latter, they probably consider to be the source of their predicaments.”
Mr. Sagay, a professor of law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, argued that mere allegations could not have enough weight to affect the position of such a high official as Mr. Amaechi, “otherwise knowing the disposition of Nigerians for putting people down, no office holder will be safe in this country.”
He said, “It is therefore improper and ridiculous to compare the position of the Justices in whose houses millions of naira and hundreds of thousands of dollars were recovered, to that of Amaechi against whom there is only the mere ipse dixit of the Judges.”
Mr. Sagay said the anti-Amaechi narrative was consistent with the objectives and interests of the chief promoters and funders of judicial corruption during election petitions.
According to him, the powerful opposition politicians were well known.
He said, “To be more specific, they are from Rivers and Akwa-Ibom States. They are the ones who financed judicial corruptions and brought that great institution, the judiciary, to its knees, after the 2015 elections.”
Mr. Sagay said the allegations were intended to undermine and weaken the Buhari-led federal government, by depriving it of the service, input, ideas and productivity of some of its brightest stars.
“This is intended to set the stage for charging the government with ineffectiveness and cluelessness.
“In other words, it is an attempt to reduce the image and perception of this Federal Government to the low level of their own late and unlamented government.
“Therefore, the call for Amaechi to step down is malicious and vindictive. It should be ignored with complete ignominy.”