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Nigeria: judicial corruption and desperation of the political elite

The recent raid on the alleged corrupt judges in the Nigerian judiciary have unwittingly exposed the desperation of the political elites to clinch power at all costs.

When rejected at the polls, they deploy huge resources to attempt to influence the outcome of the tribunal cases.

The trending release by Justice Okoro of the Supreme court, indicting the President, Rotimi Amaechi and Umana Umana lays credence to this.

Akwa Ibom former Governor Akpabio and a Justice 

Justice Okoro’s letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria revealed how former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi tried to bribe and intimidate him into giving a contrary judgment in the Rivers, Akwa  Ibom, and Abia States governorship elections. 

Okoro, whose house was raided by the DSS on October 8, alleged that Amaechi had approached him to compromise the governorship election appeals from the mentioned states.

He narrated how Amaechi, on several occasion visited him, even at his home, to press his demands.

In a letter to the chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), he wrote:

“Mr Ameachi said All Progressive Congress 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 All Progressive Congress for the election, and if he lost Akwa Ibom appeal he would have lost a fortune.

“Mr Ameachi 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 cooperated with them.”

He reminded the CJN that he had reported the bribery attempt to him in February.

Amaechi and Justice Inyang

Excuse me, what exactly are we really talking about? asked Inibehe Effiong

A judicial officer at the highest level, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria is openly telling the world that he entertained visitors, including a litigant in his house over a case that was pending before his court. What does this say about the judicial officer and the Nigerian Judiciary?

Inibehe Effiong citeed Rule 1 (2) of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers which states that:

“A Judicial Officer must avoid social relationship that are improper or give rise to an appearance of impropriety, that cast doubt on the judicial officers ability to decide cases impartially, or that bring disrepute to the Judiciary”

Mr Effiong then wrote:

If the alleged visits were unscheduled, Justice Okoro should be kind enough to tell us why he allowed the unexpected visitors to pass through the gate of his house, walk through the door(s) and welcomed them? You mean these people traced his house and paid him unscheduled visits and he welcomed them just like that?

If he was given notice by his visitors, My Lord should be generous enough to tell the world why he did not rebuff and reject the request for appointment/meeting?

During the course of the 2015 gubernatorial election litigation, Sahara Reporters reported that Governor Nyesom Wike visited the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) in his office. Recall that the CJN issued a statement through his media aide stating that although Wike made efforts to meet the Honourable CJN, he was denied access. The CJN warned politicians to steer clear from him.

In the instant case, Justice Okoro is declaring to the world that he entertained visitors and litigants in his house. He is saying this today because the State Security Service (SSS) have gone after him over alleged corrupt practices. If the SSS had not moved against him, who would have heard what he is telling us now?

So who can vouch for His Lordship that he did not meet with the other party?

So Umana Umana whose petition was partially sustained at the Tribunal which nullified election in 19 out of the 31 Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State and also won a total victory at the Court of Appeal which nullified the entire election, was busy seeking appointment with and assistance from a Justice of the Supreme Court while the Respondents who lost partially at the Tribunal and totally at the Court of Appeal, Governor Udom Emmanuel, his godfather Senator Godswill Akpabio and his party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were relaxing; drinking champagne and having a good time without apprehension? 

Umana Umana did not file any appeal at the Supreme Court. He did seek any relief from the Supreme Court except for the affirmation of the concurrent findings of the two lower courts and a dismissal of the appeals by Udom Emmanuel and the PDP.

Highlighting this judicial blight in his article ELECTORAL REFORMS,  Johnnie Eze wrote:  

“Elections in Nigeria and world over is a battle that takes different hues.

Politicians are demons on the prowl for power and they are always willing to do the extra to tweek the system in their favor.

Eternal vigilance therefore is required by operators of the system to keep these demons in check in any election season no matter how advanced the country is.

In the case with Nigeria, politicians don’t believe they lose elections until the final determination of the court cases that follows after the election by the various tribunals.

It was only the last presidential election that never had it’s outcome challenged in any court.

It is the resort to the courts by even very unpopular candidates at the polls, that have exposed the judiciary to the alleged corruption perception it has now.

Aside from ballot box snatching and other electoral malfeasance greater manipulation often happens at the collation centres. 

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