Saturday, October 29, 2016

Investigate Allegations Against Amaechi, Onu

By Frank P. Ujuh
The anti-corruption war is getting messier everyday with some startling revelations. After the Department of State Services (DSS) sting operation on some judges in the country and government’s explanation over what most Nigerians regarded as an attack on the judiciary, some of the judges have started dishing out their own side of the story.
Rotimi Amaechi and President Buhari 
First to throw the salvo was one of the arrested Justices of the Supreme Court, Justice John Inyang Okoro. Justice Okoro had in a letter to the National Judicial Council (NJC) alleged that his refusal to do the bidding of the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, over election matters in Akwa Ibom, Abia and Rivers states is the source of his travails.
According to Justice Okoro, “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 appeals in respect of Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State and Abia State at all costs.”
However, Amaechi’s media aide, David Iyofo, has denied the allegation. He said that “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 the 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.”
When the dust raised by Okoro’s allegation is not yet settled, another Supreme Court Judge, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta came up with another weighty allegation of corruption against Amaechi and the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu over election matters. Justice Ngwuta had in a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, explained that his problem dated back to 2014 when Amaechi approached him to set aside Ayo Fayose’s election in order to make way for the former governor of Ekiti State and now Minister of Solid Mineral, Kayode Fayemi.
According to Ngwuta, “My present plight started sometime between 2013 and 2014. I represented the then Chief Justice of Nigeria in an event organised in the International Conference Centre. He begged me to ensure that Fayose’s election was set aside and another election ordered for his friend Fayemi to contest. I told him I would not help him and that even if I was on the panel, I had only my one vote.”
*Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and  President
Muhammadu Buhari
Justice Ngwuta also alleged that a former governor of Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu contacted him to help sway the Court of Appeal’s decision on Ebonyi State governorship election matter. Amaechi’s media aide, David Iyofo said that “Justice Ngwuta’s allegation is nothing but pure fiction, a dubious diversionary tale concocted to muddle the very serious issues of his arrest and investigation by the Department of State Services (DSS).”
In the same vein, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has denied the bribery allegation by Ngwuta. According to Onu, “ I am astonished that Justice Ngwuta made such statements against my humble self, especially considering that he is my brother, friend and long standing associate of almost three decades.”
Onu further pointed out that “I have labored with other compatriots to strengthen the depth and reach of participatory democracy in our beloved country. in doing so, I am conscious of the essence of the rule of law as a vital component of true and enduring democracy and the important need to treasure, protect and defend it at all times. Even as a student, teacher, engineer and administrator, I have always worked tirelessly to uphold the rule of law.”
Despite the spirited denials by the two ministers, the allegations made by Justices Okoro and Ngwuta against Rotimi Amaechi and Ogbonnaya Onu are too weighty to be dismissed with a wave of the hand. The aim of the fight against corruption will be utterly defeated if these allegations are not thoroughly investigated. In fact, the relevant investigative organs should wade into the matter without any further delay.
The investigation has become necessary considering the fact that the allegations border on bribing judges against election petition matters, especially those in Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Abia, Ekiti and Ebonyi states. It is worrisome that all the states concerned in these allegations are in the hands of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and those named in the bribery allegations are chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
While we hold those mentioned in the allegations innocent until the contrary is proved, we call for urgent investigation of the sundry bribery allegations against the serving ministers of this administration. It is in the interest of the ministers that the matter is investigated.
For the investigation to be thorough, the two ministers must step aside. Since the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has affirmed that corruption is in all arms of government, the fight against corruption should be extended to those involved in the executive arm. Much of that had been the lot of the legislature and recently of the judiciary.
The Federal Government should not bury this matter under the carpet. This matter should not be treated like a family affair. Since these allegations have been brought to the public domain by the Supreme Court Justices, they deserve to be investigated. To do otherwise will jeopardize the current anti-corruption agenda of the present administration.
Every person accused of corruption must be thoroughly investigated and there should be no cover up of any kind. Nigerians are watching to see this happen. It will be recalled that the anti-graft war of the present dispensation has been accused of being selective and political. Nigerians want a departure from such posture. Let all corruption allegations against those in power also be investigated.
Ujuh writes from Abuja


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