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Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, on Thursday said the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, asked him to help influence the apex court’s decisions on the Ebonyi State governorship election case last year.
Ngwuta, who is one of the seven judges arrested recently by the operatives of the Department of State Services, made the allegation in a letter dated October 18, 2016, and addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
He alleged that the minister invited him and he honoured the invitation, adding that it was during their meeting that Onu sought his help to influence the decision of the Court of Appeal on election case.
He stated, “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 member of the 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, 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 know 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 the candidate of 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 the 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.”
The Justice of the apex court also alleged that the operatives of the DSS planted some amounts of money in his house during the raid on his home to incriminate him.
He said apart from the $25,000, £10 and a brown envelope containing the sum of N710,000 which was a monthly allowance paid to him for September 2016 and another N300,000 and some loose change contained in the bag he usually took to the office, he had no explanation for the large sum of money allegedly recovered from his house.
But he said he signed a document said to be containing the list of items recovered from his house under a life-threatening situation.
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