…Justice Ngwuta is not saying the truth, say Rotimi Amaechi and Ogbonaya Oni
In an unmistakable language, serving justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta arrested by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) in the presence of his housemaid on the night of October 7, this year, Thursday fingered two serving ministers on the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari as the architects of his on-going travail.
Justice Ngwuta said the two politicians approached him at separate times regarding two different cases, to breach his oath of office by influencing his brother justices at the Supreme Court to ensure that the electoral victory of Ekiti governor, Ayodele Fayose was nullified on the one hand and to influence President of the Court of Appeal to give favourable judgment in another gubernatorial election on the other hand
He confirmed rumours that had made the rounds in the past that for virtually every election petition, politicians move around with monies or promises of monies to pervert justice.
But both Rotimi Amaechi and Ogbonaya Onu had replied Justice Ngwuta that if anybody had approached him to pervert justice, they said they were definitely not the ones.
In his letter to the CJN on the issue dated October 18, Justice Ngwuta alleged that the reasons for his arrest were simple and clear.
Hear him: “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 Division, Calabar, to preside over a motion filed by Senator Andy Uba, seeking to be a Governor without going through the process of election. In each case, I was exonerated.
“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.
“Hon. 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 after, Fayose’s case was determined in the Court of Appeal. Amaechi called me by 6.45 am. He 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 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 am on the panel I 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, he 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 man. We exchanged greetings and I handed the phone to him.
“Next, he said ‘Oga is not happy.’ I asked him who is the unhappy “Oga” and he answered “Buhari.”.
“I retorted “go and talk to his wife.” He got very angry, and left, remarking “we shall see” several times.
“Your Lordship may recall one morning when I pleaded not to be on the Panel for Rivers Appeal. Your Lordship said I was already on the Panel and asked me to explain why I made the 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 4.20 pm.
“The moment I got into my Chambers, he, Amaechi, called. When he told me who was calling, I said to him, “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 I will narrate 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 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, Dr. 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 told Igwenyi that he would have to take me to Dr. Onu in his car and bring me back.
“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 me whether I knew the Hon. 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 asked of my relationship with the PJA and I said it was cordial. He nodded his head several times in apparent satisfaction.
“He told me that the candidate for the Labour Party was ready to switch over to APC if he could help him win the 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 bid 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.
“Igwenyi apologised to me and assured me that he would not have bothered me if he had known what Dr. Onu wanted me to do.
“My Lord, the facts stated herein can be verified.
“Attached is an Affidavit deposed by me in the Supreme Court Registry to this effect. Yours faithfully”
Amaechi denies lobbying Supreme Court judges
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has denied the recent allegations made against him by a judge of Supreme Court, Sylvester Ungwuta.
Mr. Ungwuta, in a letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria had alleged that Mr. Amaechi lobbied him to give a favourable judgement to Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress in an Ekiti State governorship election matter.
Another judge of the Supreme Court, Inyang Okoro, had made similar allegations against the minister. Both accusers are being investigated for corruption by the State Security Service, SSS.
In his reaction on Thursday evening, Mr. Amaechi said both allegations were false.
“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,” a statement by Mr. Amaechi’s media office said.
“Amaechi did not and has never lobbied, approached or attempted to make the CJN or any other Justice of the apex court to influence the Supreme Court judgment on the Rivers State and Ekiti State Governorship Elections petition appeals or any other matter before the apex court or any other court.”
His full statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to the allegations levelled against Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, by Supreme Court Justice, The Honourable Justice Sylvester Ngwuta. In response we state that:
“The Hon. Justice Ngwuta’s allegation as it concerns Amaechi 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).
“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.
“The Hon. Justice Ngwuta’s narrative as it concerns Amaechi is simply not true, an unadulterated fallacy designed to deceive and distract from the real issues of DSS investigation of acts of corruption against him.
It’s indeed very sad and most unfortunate that the Hon. Justice Ngwuta had decided to drag the name of the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), into his fabricated allegations.
“Again, we make bold to state that Amaechi did not and has never lobbied, approached or attempted to make the CJN or any other Justice of the apex court to influence the Supreme Court judgment on the Rivers State and Ekiti State Governorship Elections petition appeals or any other matter before the apex court or any other court.
“Within a space of 48 hours, we have observed a carefully planned and coordinated political attempt to drag Amaechi into the DSS arrest and investigation of judges in Nigeria.
“The aim of the plot is two-fold: to smear and politically destroy the image and reputation of Amaechi, and deceitfully portray him as the person behind the arrest of judges.
“This is indeed most ridiculous and callous.
“We are aware of a well -timed, heavily funded plot to “take out” Amaechi politically, and it appears that Justice Ngwuta and Justice Inyang Okoro (of the Supreme Court, who had also made similar made-up allegations against Amaechi), have wittingly or unwittingly been conscripted into this devious politics of “destroy Amaechi by all means.”
“Amaechi is not and cannot be behind the arrest and investigation of the Hon. Justice Ngwuta.
“He should kindly leave Amaechi alone and face the issues he has with the DSS.
“Amaechi is talking with his lawyers and will explore lawful channels to seek redress for this gross defamation against his character and person.
Ogbonnaya Onu reacts
Reacting to the allegation, Press Secretary to the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Taye Akinyemi, said: “Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu is one politician who has remained credible since advent of democracy in Nigeria.
“When all politicians in the country were decamping to the ruling party, he never did. Even when many advances were made to influence him, he never did.
“In the current dispensation, he is where he is today as a result of the effort he put along with other patriotic Nigerians to bring the ruling APC to power.
‘’In all his political career, he has never been seen to be negative. By his age and status, he has no reason to do that, he could not have connived with anybody to pursue such mission.
“If he is going to do anything for this country, it is going to be in the national interest. Whoever is saying that is only trying to raise an issue where none exists.
‘’This allegation is nothing but an attempt to truncate democracy. Ogbonnaya Onu can never be part of such a plan.
“ Anybody accusing him of such should look for something else. Ogbonnaya Onu can never be part of a process that will truncate the wheel of democracy.”