Eminent lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has said opposition leaders in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states corrupted the judiciary after the 2015 elections.
Sagay said this in a statement on Thursday while reacting to allegations by two Supreme Court justices, who are under probe, that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, attempted to compromise their judgments on election petitions.
The judges, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta and Justice Inyang Okoro, were last month arrested by officials of the Department of State Services, when huge sums of money and incriminating documents were allegedly found in their houses.
Weeks after their arrest, the two judges accused Amaechi of being behind their predicament.
However, Sagay, who is the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, described the allegations of the judges as an afterthought.
Sagay, who spoke in his personal capacity on Thursday, said, “This sudden anti-Amaechi narrative is consistent with the objectives and interests of the chief promoters and funders of judicial corruption during election petitions. These powerful opposition politicians are well known. To be more specific, they are from Rivers and Akwa Ibom states.
“They are the ones who financed judicial corruption and brought that great institution, the judiciary, to its knees, after the 2015 elections.
“These allegations are intended to undermine and weaken the Buhari-led Federal Government by depriving it of the service, input, ideas and productivity of some of its brightest stars.
“This is intended to set the stage for charging the government with ineffectiveness and cluelessness. In other words, it is an attempt to reduce the image and perception of this Federal Government to the low level of their own late and unlamented government.”
The senior advocate said the judges had, by their utterances, reduced themselves to the level of politicians who made frivolous and baseless accusations.
He advised them to use their time to prepare for their trial instead of engaging in frivolities.
Sagay added, “This outburst by the two Justices is surprising, considering that it is totally unrelated to the raids of their premises, their arrest and subsequent charges before our courts.
“Men of that status should not indulge in such diversionary activities in the midst of grave and ominous charges facing them. I would have thought that they would use the time at their disposal to prepare their defences against the serious charges they are facing.
“In any case, given their status as Supreme Court Justices, even in the middle of the adversity confronting them, they should not have engaged in a distraction totally incompatible with the dignity and respect that their high offices attract.”
Rivers APC, PDP disagree on presidential panel chair against graft
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State, however, disagreed with Sagay on who was responsible for the alleged bribery of some judges after the 2015 elections.
While the state APC said Sagay’s statement was in tandem with the party’s position, the PDP insisted that Sagay’s statement was a cover-up for the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.
The Rivers State APC Publicity Secretary, Mr. Chris Finebone, told one of our correspondents that the APC had earlier petitioned the NJC over the allegation of bribery in the judiciary.
“We agree with him (Sagay). There are petitions pending before the NJC, alleging how some judges were bribed. The opposition Itse Sagay is talking about is the opposition to the Federal Government,” Finebone said.
But the State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, described Sagay as Amaechi’s ally and should not be taken seriously.
Nwanosike said he disagreed with Sagay because he (Sagay) was only interested in saving a friend.
“The judges have accused Amaechi. So, Amaechi should resign and be investigated. Itse Sagay cannot stop the perception of the Nigerians,” he added.