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Judge links travail to alleged bribery attempt by Amaechi

By Joseph Onyekwere (Lagos), Kelvin Ebiri (Port Harcourt) and Bridget Chiedu Onochie (Abuja)
19 October 2016   |   4:20 am
Embattled Justice of the Supreme Court, John Inyang Okoro, yesterday fired back, linking his travails to his refusal to do the bidding of the Transport Minister, Chibuike Amaechi.


• It’s not true, say minister’s aide, Peterside
• Justice Ademola hands off Dasuki’s trial

Embattled Justice of the Supreme Court, John Inyang Okoro, yesterday fired back, linking his travails to his refusal to do the bidding of the Transport Minister, Chibuike Amaechi.

Justice Okoro, who was one of the judges arrested recently by the Department of State Services (DSS) over alleged corruption said Amaechi attempted to use him to compromise the outcome of election petitions in Akwa Ibom, Abia and Rivers states at the Supreme Court.

According to Justice Okoro, Amaechi visited his official residence and told him that the All Progressives Congress (APC) must win their election appeals in respect of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia at all costs. The justice added that the minister informed him that the decision to compromise the election appeal had the endorsement of the president.

Justice Okoro’s revelation is contained in his letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), dated October 17, explaining the circumstances surrounding the invasion of his official residence and arrest by DSS.

His words: “My lord, I strongly believe that this my travail is not unconnected with the verbal report I made to you on February 1, 2016 about the visit to my official residence by Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Rivers State and now Minister of Transport. In that report, I told you my lord, that Amaechi said that the president of Nigeria and the APC mandated him to inform me that they must win their election appeals in respect of Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State and Abia State at all costs.

“For Akwa Ibom State, he alleged that he sponsored Mr. Umana Umana, candidate of the APC for that election and that if he lost Akwa Ibom appeal, he would have lost a fortune. Mr. Amaechi also said that he had already visited you and that you had agreed to make me a member of the panel that would hear the appeals. He further told me that Mr. Umana would be paying me millions of naira monthly if I co-operated with them. My response, as I told you on that date was that it does not lie within my power to grant his request and that I would do all within my power not to be on the panel for Akwa Ibom State.

“My lord graciously left me out of the panel for Akwa Ibom State. That notwithstanding, the APC in Akwa Ibom State which lost the appeal at the Supreme Court believes that my presence in the Supreme Court made them to lose the appeal. Could I have resigned from the Supreme Court simply because people of Akwa Ibom State had a matter before it?”

Justice Okoro also recalled that he reported to the CJN about the visit of Umana to his residence before that of Amaechi.

The embattled judge who said he had eschewed corruption from his days at the magistracy up to the apex court narrated how his house was invaded by agents of DSS and gave inventory of all that was collected in his house.

“My lord, the operatives of DSS searched all the rooms in the house meticulously. They also searched the boy’s quarters and my official vehicles parked outside. At the end of the search, which lasted till about 1:30 a.m. of October 8, 2016, they took away the following items: One Ipad, three phones (only one active), $38,800, N3.5million and four cheque books. The above items were documented on the back page of the search warrant they produced and we signed.”

However, the media aide to Amaechi, David Iyofo 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,” he said.

Also, the APC standard-bearer in Rivers State, Dr. Peterside Dakuku, said if the allegation were true , it meant then that Justice Okoro took a bribe from the highest bidder. “Amaechi cannot do such a thing. If he said Amaechi had wanted to compromise him, it means that he had taken money from the highest bidder,” he stated.

Also yesterday, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja withdrew from the trial of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

Ademola, who was among the judges arrested by the DSS announced his withdrawal from the case at the resumed hearing yesterday.

He told the court that he would no longer continue with the trial on the ground of allegation of corruption levelled against him by DSS. Ademola said he was constrained to continue with hearing on the criminal case in view of the recent clampdown on him and some of his colleagues across the country.

While Dipo Okpeseyi appeared for the Federal Government, the defence counsel was Adedayo Adedeji.

Further addressing the court, Justice Ademola stated: “I am sure the prosecution and defence counsel are conversant with what has been going on in the last seven days in this country.

“One of the allegations being made against me by the DSS is that I received certain unspecified sums of money from the defendant.”