The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Chibuike Amaechi, minister of transportation and Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of science and technology, for alleged attempts to bribe judges whom the National Judicial Commission (NJC) have now suspended.
On Thursday, the NJC announced the suspension of seven judges who are being investigated for corruption.
Two of the suspects – supreme court judges – had alleged that Amaechi and Onu tried to influence them to manipulate appeals on the governorship elections in Abia, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states.
In a statement on Friday, Dayo Adeyeye, spokesman of the PDP, called on the president to suspend the ministers whom the judges have accused of corruption.
“It is public knowledge that on Thursday, 4th of November, 2016, the NJC announced the decision to suspend Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Justice Inyang Okoro of the supreme court,” he said.
“Others are Justice Mohammed Tsamiya –presiding justice of the court of appeal, Ilorin division; Justice Kabiru Auta – Kano state high court; Justice Adeniyi Ademola – federal high court, Abuja; Justice I. A. Umezulike – former chief judge of Enugu state and Muazu Pindiga – federal high court, Gombe division.
“The suspension was based on the investigation of these justices by the Directorate of State Security (DSS) on various allegations of corruption.
“It is important to note that Justices Ngwuta and Okoro have alleged that they are the targets of a witch-hunt because they refused offers of inducement and bribes made to them by the minister of transport, Rotimi Amaechi and the minister of science and technology, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu – to subvert the course of justice in appeals against the decisions of lower courts in election petitions in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti and Rivers states.
“In order to allow for a fair and independent investigation, it is incumbent on President Muhammadu Buhari to ask these ministers to step aside pending the conclusion of investigations into these issues. The judiciary has set a very good example in its quest to fight corruption.
“It has proven that it is ready to reform itself and we commend the NJC for taking this bold step. Likewise, we call on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to emulate the decision of the National Judicial Council (NJC) mandating the seven justices to suspend the performance of their judicial functions pending the conclusion of investigations against them.
“Anything less will confirm the long held notion that President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration consider themselves to be above the law and not subject to the provisions of our laws and the institutions of our democracy.”
Adeyeye added that if the ministers were retained in the face of the allegations against them, it would be that the entire judicial corruption saga was a deliberate attempt to blackmail the judiciary in order to subjugate it and make it a rubber stamp institution of the administration.