A Federal High Court Judge sitting in Abuja, Justice Ahmed Mohammed yesterday washed his hands off the trial of former Benue State Governor, Dr. Gabriel Suswam, in the alleged N3.1billion fraud, money laundering and breach of trust.
The Judge withdrew from adjudicating over the matter following allegation by an online medium, the Sahara Reporters, that he has received bribe from the former governor to give judgment in his favour.
When the trial came up yesterday, Justice Mohammed raised the issue of publication by Sahara Reporters and the allegation, which he said, has brought disrepute to his image and that of the Federal High Court as an institution in the eyes of ordinary Nigerians.
Justice Mohammed who was Irked by the allegations added that the court has been caught in between two devils because wherever the pendulum of his decision swings at the end of the trial, the issue of the publication can be used to justify or rubbish the outcome of the trial.
Accordingly, he said it was is in the interest of justice that he steps down from the trial for another Judge to adjudicate the trial in the interest of the public interest.
After announcing his withdrawal from the trial, he said he was going to return the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta for reassignment to another Judge.
“It is trend these days to accuse a Judge handling a matter of all sorts of wrong doing”.
“The allegation is in the public domain and whatever the court does would be subject to public speculations and interpretation”.
“If the defendant is convicted, he will hold that the publication has intimidated the Judge. On the other hand, they will say that the allegation was through. My honest view is to excuse myself”.
“It is better to allow the matter go before another. It is for this reason that I return the case file for reassignment to another Judge in the overall interest of justice”.
Counsel to the federal government Mr. Rotimi Jacobs SAN and counsel to Suswan Mr. Joseph Daudu SAN said that the publication was the handiwork of mischief makers who are bent on frustrating the trial.
They asked the court not to receive the publication with any serious, stressing that they are faceless and urged him not to be provoked by the publication in the interest of the trial.