JUSTICE Sylvester Ngwuta, a justice of the Supreme Court, on Thursday, October 20, accused Rotimi Amaechi, minister of Transport and Ogbonnaiya Onu, minister of Science and Technology of being the architect of his travails.
Ngwuta, who was arrested by Department of State Services, DSS, operatives for alleged corruption, blamed it all on his refusal to cooperate with the ministers, who he said had requested him to influence some electoral cases in their favour.
He alleged that Amaechi and Onu asked him to assist them in relation to the governorship election disputes in Ekiti and Ebonyi states.
The justice alleged that Amaechi, who claimed to be acting on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, wanted him to facilitate the annulment of Governor Ayodele Fayose’s election so that Kayode Fayemi (now minister of Solid Mineral) could participate in a rerun election.
Ngwuta would be the second judicial officer to accuse Amaechi after Justice Inyang Okoro had accused the minister of trying to bribe him.
Justice Ngwuta said Onu had sought his help to facilitate the victory of the Labour Party, LP, candidate, in the Ebonyi State governorship election dispute.
Justice Nqwuta, in his October 18, 2016, letter to Justice Mahmud Mohammed, chief justice of Nigeria, CJN, and chairman of the National Judicial Council, NJC, accused the DSS operatives of planting the money they claimed to have recovered in his home there.
His letter said in part: “My Noble Lord, I am a victim of my own resolve never to violate my sacred oath of office as a judicial officer. Politicians and their collaborators have been hunting me on that account.
“It started in Ebonyi State where I was falsely accused before a panel set up by NJC in August 2000. It was replicated in 2009 when I was pulled from my division, Calabar, to preside over a motion filed by Senator Andy Uba seeking to be a Governor without going through the process of election. In each case I was exonerated.
“My present plight started sometime between 2013 and 2014. I represented the then Chief Justice of Nigeria in an event organised in the International Conference Centre. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi came in late and sat next to me at the high table.
“He introduced himself to me and we exchanged contacts. A few weeks after, Fayose’s case was determined in the Court of Appeal. Amaechi called me by 6.45 am. He said he had come to see me, but was told I had left for my office.
“When he said he would return in the evening, I demanded to know what he wanted, but he would not tell me. He did not come that evening but came the following morning when I was already prepared to go to work.
“He 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 phone 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. My Lord, on the day we heard the appeal with your Lordship presiding, we were allowed lunch break at 4.20 pm.
“The moment I got into my chambers he, Amaechi, called. When he told me who was calling, I said to him, ‘Your Excellency, you want to issue more threats?’ He replied ‘Have you been threatened before?’ I replied ‘I know a threat when I hear one even if veiled. In any case I will not talk to you’ and I switched off my phone.
”The people who failed in their attempt to destroy me in Ebonyi in 2000 and in Enugu in Andy Uba’s case in the Court of Appeal, Enugu in 2009 are now supplying Amaechi with information to fight me for my negative response to his demands, especially my answer to his statement that ‘Oga was not happy.’
On the role allegedly played by Onu, Ngwuta said: “When the governorship election appeal from my state, Ebonyi, came to the Court of Appeal, one Mr. Igwenyi, a senior staff of 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, Dr. 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 that the candidate for 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 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.”
— Oct 31, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT