Former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant in Cross River State, Joe Agi, SAN, has alleged that the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and those he described as a cabal were after him because he did not only expose them but also thwarted the fraudulent deduction of $3,18 billion from local governments account by the Federal Government in the Paris Club fund.
He said this amidst his recent arraignment by the federal government for allegedly bribing the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen with $30,000 for a favourable judgment.
In a statement sent to journalists on Wednesday, the legal luminary denied bribing Onnoghen, insisting that his arraignment was ‘punishment’ for exposing the alleged fraud by the Aso Villa cabal.
He explained: “In the year 2009, I brought to his (Onnoghen) knowledge that he can open a domiciliary account instead of travelling with cash from Nigeria to abroad on seminars, holidays, conferences or medical trips.
“My Lord Justice Onnoghen said he had no idea since the opening of foreign account was forbidden for Public Officers. I informed him that domiciliary account is not a foreign bank account as it is opened and operated within the local banks in Nigeria.
“It was on this note that I went to my banker and obtained Account Opening Forms for him as a friend and senior brother.
“He completed the forms and I refereed him. He gave me $30,000, being left over of his allowances for overseas seminars, holidays, conferences or medical trips to deposit for him as the first deposit.
“This, I did in 2009, that is 10 years ago. After that, he operated the account himself without me paying even a cent into that account till date.
“Now, 10 years after, I am again being vilified and accused of giving Justice Onnoghen bribe.
“If I may ask, a bribe for what case? In the Supreme Court panel, they sit in five or seven persons, was the $30,000 for the five or seven justices? And for what case? This is another huge joke aimed at vilifying my person by the same cabal who are hell bent on tarnishing my image as an aftermath of the exposure of the Paris Club fraud.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, challenged the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami, who instituted the case against him to come up with evidence to support his claim that the $30 ,000 traced to the account of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Onnoghen, was a bribe to compromise the trial on the exposed $ 3.18 billion paris club fruad.
He explained that though he convinced the suspended CJN to open the said domiciliary account with the Standard Chartered Bank 10 years ago with an initial deposit of $30,000, the deposit was never a bribe to the CJN or the trial judge in the Paris Club’s fraud case, Justice Adeniyi Ademola.
According to him, rather than the government to pay him his legal fee of over N 70 million for exposing and winning the case in court, Mallami and the same cabal had framed him up with trump up charges including bribing the suspended CJN.
Mr Agi said it was a huge joke to have said he bribed the respected Justice of supreme Court justice Ademola with N30 million and a jeep to secure the ruling on the Paris Club refund.
“Is it a crime for judges to have friends or acquaintances? I challenge the Attorney General Malami, SAN and the EFCC to come forward with their proof that the $30,000 Onnoghen sent me to deposit for him 10 years ago was as a result of bribery.
“I challenge them to come out openly on the real reason why they are out to tarnish my image. They should be bold enough to open up rather than hiding under the guise of fight against corruption as a smokescreen to launch a smear campaign against my person.
“The government should be sincere and serious about fighting corruption and not be engaged in the deliberate destruction of the names of its citizens whom they perceive as enemies.
“Which Nigerian alive today can say he has not benefited from the Paris Club Refund? Yet, Joe Agi, SAN who is the face of Paris Club refund is being hounded and haunted instead of being celebrated. God save us!
“Let it be known that very prominent people in the present government have corruptly and fraudulently taken the legal fees due to me from the Paris Club Refund and the EFCC has seen nothing wrong with it,” he further said.