Another Supreme Court judge, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, whose house was raided and was arrested by officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) has accused the Minister of Transportation and former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi of attempting to bribe him to pervert justice in the governorship election disputes in Ekiti, Rivers, and Ebonyi states, SUN reports.
This is coming few days after Ngwuta’s colleague, Justice John Inyang Okoro alleged that Amaechi attempted to bribe him to pervert justice in the Abia, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers state election appeals.
Ameachi had denied the allegations, adding that he’d take legal steps to clear his name.
Justice Ngwuta, in a letter dated October 18, 2016 and addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, “Invasion Of My House In The Night, Planting Of Huge Sums Of Money In Different Currencies, Purported Recovery Of The Money, Carting Away Of My Documents And Other Valuable Items And My Subsequent Abduction By Masked Operatives Of The DSS Between Friday, October 7th And Saturday, October 8th, 2016”
My present plight started sometime between 2013 and 2014. I represented the then CJN in an event organised at the International Conference Centre (ICC).
Honourable Rotimi Amaechi came in late and sat next to me at the high table. He introduced himself to me and we exchanged contacts. A few weeks later, Fayose’s case was determined in the Court of Appeal.
Amaechi called me by 6.45am and said he had come to see me, but was told I had left for my office. When he said he would return in the evening, I demanded to know what he wanted, but he would not tell me.
He did not come that evening, but came the following morning when I was already prepared to go to work.
He begged me to ensure 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 would have only my one vote.
After the Rivers State governorship election was determined by the Court of Appeal, he called to tell me his ‘ears were full’ and he would like to tell me what he heard. I told him I was out of Abuja at the time. On my return, he came in the evening and even before he sat down, barked ‘You have seen Wike.’
I asked him whether that was a question or a statement. Then, he made a call and asked me to speak with someone.
The man he called said he was a DSS officer. We exchanged greetings and I handed the phone to him. Next, he said, ‘Oga is not happy.’ I asked him who the unhappy ‘Oga’ is and he answered ‘Buhari.’ I retorted ‘go and talk to his wife.’ He got very angry and left, with a remark, ‘we shall see’ several times.”
My Noble Lord, I am a victim of my own resolve never to violate my sacred oath of office as a judicial officer. Politicians and their collaborators have been hunting me on that account. It started in Ebonyi State where I was falsely accused before a panel set up by NJC in August 2000. It was replicated in 2009 when I was pulled from my Calabar Division, to preside over a motion filed by Senator Andy Uba, seeking to be governor without going through the process of election. In each case, I was exonerated.
Your Lordship may recall one morning, when I pleaded not be on the panel for Rivers state Appeal. Your Lordship said I was already on the panel and asked me to explain why I request to be excluded. When I explained what transpired the previous night, Your Lordship told me Amaechi had also attempted to influence other justices.
My Lord, on the day we heard the appeal, with your Lordship presiding, we were allowed lunch break at 4.20pm. The moment I got into my Chambers, he, Amaechi, called… When I saw who was calling, I said, ‘Your Excellency, you want to issue more threats?’ He replied, ‘Have you been threatened before?’ I replied ‘I know a threat when I hear one, even if veiled. In any case, I will not talk to you’ and I switched off my phone.
The people who failed in their attempt to destroy me in Ebonyi in 2000 and in Enugu, in Andy Uba’s case in the Court of Appeal, Enugu, in 2009, are now supplying Amaechi with information to fight me for my negative response to his demands, especially, my answer to his statement that ‘Oga was not happy’. This infuriated him and as he stormed out, he said he would deal with the situation. The incident below may or may not bear on this case. When the governorship election appeal from my state, Ebonyi, came to the Court of Appeal, one Mr. Igwenyi, a senior staff of the Federal Judicial Service Commission came to my Chambers and told me that the former governor of Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu had pleaded with him to convince me to see him (Onu). I asked him to call Dr. Onu. He did and I wanted to know why he wanted to see me. He said it was confidential. I asked when he wanted to see me and he said he would like me to come in the evening…
I had wanted him to listen to what Dr. Onu had to say, but, when we arrived, Dr. Onu put him in a different room. He asked whether I knew the President of the Court of Appeal and I told him that His Lordship was my Presiding Justice in the Court of Appeal, Benin Division. He told me the candidate for the Labour Party was ready to switch over to the APC if he could help him win his appeal in the Court of Appeal and that, in appreciation of the undertaking to come over to his party, he had obtained the services of three Justices of the Court of Appeal to ensure victory for Labour Party.
He said he needed one to convince the PJA to include his three Justices of the Court of Appeal in the five-man panel to hear the appeal. I told him I would not help him and that I could not, in good conscience, convey such request even to a Customary Court judge. He was disappointed and asked me whether I knew the husband of the PJA. I told him I did not know the man.
I bade him good night and left. Igwenyi joined me in the passage and when he drove me back to my home, I told him what Dr. Onu wanted.
Justice Ngwuta also denied knowledge of monies said to have been found in his house.
“The only bag that contained money was the small bag I locked with a padlock which I unlocked when ordered to do so. The bag contained the sum of $25,000, £10 and a brown envelope containing the sum of N710, 000 which was a monthly allowance paid to me for September 2016. In the brief case, which I carry to my office daily, I had the sum of N300, 000 and some loose change. The above are the only sums of money taken from me along with my phones, papers and other household items.
I do not know how they came about the huge sums of money I saw for the first time in my parlour on the early hours of Saturday, October 8. “The various sums of money alleged to have been recovered from me were said to be in the social media in the early hours of Saturday, October 8, when the invaders were yet to complete their search,” he said.
Amaechi, according to SaharaReporters, dismissed the allegations as “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).”
“For emphasis, we want to state categorically that Amaechi did not and has never tried to lobby, induce or make the Hon. Justice Ngwuta to influence the outcome of any matter before the Supreme Court or any other court,” he said, adding that Justice Ngwuta’s narrative was “an unadulterated fallacy designed to deceive and distract from the real issues of DSS investigation of acts of corruption against him.”