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Another Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, has accused the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, and his Science and Technology counterpart, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, of asking him to help to influence the apex court’s decisions in some election cases.
Ngwuta, who is one of the seven judges arrested recently by the operatives of the Department of State Services, said his current ordeal was connected to his refusal to accede to the requests made by the ministers.
He made the allegation in his letter dated October 18, 2016, and addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
Maintaining his innocence, the judicial officer said he was a victim of his resolve never to violate his “sacred oath of office”.
Ngwuta’s letter which came 48 hours after that of his colleague, Justice John Okoro, who was also arrested by the DSS operatives, accused Amaechi, a former Rivers State Governor, of asking him (Okoro) to influence the apex court’s decision on poll judgment in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia states.
Okoro’s letter, dated October 17, 2016, also addressed to the CJN, had stated, “I strongly believe that my travail is not unconnected with the verbal report I made to you on February 1, 2016, about the visit to my official residence by H/E Rotimi Amaechi, former Governor of Rivers State, and now Minister of Transportation.
“In that report, I told you my Lord that Mr. Amaechi said the President of Nigeria and the All Progressives Congress mandated him to inform me that they must win their election appeals in Rivers State, Akwa Ibom and Abia states at all costs.”
In his own letter, which was leaked to the media on Thursday, Justice Ngwuta alleged that Amaechi wanted to use him to influence the Supreme Court judgment with respect to election cases on the Rivers State governorship election and the Ekiti State governorship election.
He claimed that Onu contacted him to help sway the Court of Appeal’s decision on Ebonyi State governorship election matter.
Ngwuta alleged that Amaehi had sought his help to make the Supreme Court to set aside the election of the incumbent governor, Ayodele Fayose, in order to pave the way for another election to enable his friend, Mr. Kayode Fayemi (now Minister of Solid Mineral and Steel Development), to contest the poll again.
Similar to the allegation by Okoro, Justice Ngwuta added that Amaechi had impressed it upon him that the President was interested in the judgment of the Supreme Court going in favour of the APC.
He said further that on the day the panel heard the Rivers State election case, and after members of the panel took a break, Amaechi called him on telephone while he was in his chambers, stressing that he switched off his mobile before the conversation went far.
Justice Ngwuta stated, “He (Amaechi) 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 telephone 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 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.”
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